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Hyperlocal network aims to recruit 200 journalists to tackle towns’ ‘identity crisis’

Karl HancockA hyperlocal news network is aiming to recruit up to 200 journalists in a bid to address an “identity crisis” in small towns across the UK.

Karl Hancock, who spent 25 years working as a banker in the City of London, has founded news aggregation service Nub News which currently has 59 hyperlocal outlets across the country.

But his ambitions to re-shape local news go far wider, with aspirations to launch up to 700 news websites employing 200 journalists.

Karl, pictured, is focusing his efforts on towns with populations of between 5,000 and 100,000, which he believes are not being served by the big city-based regional titles.

He told HTFP: “It’s no fault of Reach, Newsquest or Archant – there’s still demand for local news – but revenue has massively declined.

“They’re doing their best but there have been closures and cuts, and that’s caused a bit of an identity crisis in these towns.

“We’re currently an aggregator just like Google or Twitter, and what we’re doing is providing a low-cost news platform while upholding the integrity of local news.”

But Karl added: “I see us phasing [aggregation] out as soon as possible really.”

Nub News, which Karl founded with old university friend Dean Waghorn in September, is hoping to recruit 100 NCTJ-qualified journalists over the next two years, along with 100 graduates.

He has recently held talks with the NCTJ about setting up a scheme to train the graduates while on the job.

It currently has 59 hyperlocal operations in the West Country and Lincolnshire overseen by six editors, and is largely a news content aggregation service at present.

A further 90 sites are due to launch in the coming months, mainly in Wales, with 700 proposed within two years.

Karl was inspired to take up the project after leaving the City and being presented with a “Dragon’s Den” pitch by computer programmer Dean, who initially launched Nub in Bridgwater as a hobby, while at a university reunion in Cardiff.

After he “absolutely fell in love with the idea”, Karl subsequently took the proposition to a number of investment firms who were interested in the plans.

The Nub business model currently relies on sponsorship and banner ads from local businesses, and one of the company’s principles is for there to be “no intrusive or aggressive advertising on its sites”.

The NCTJ confirmed to HTFP it has held discussions with Nub News, but declined to comment further at this stage.

3 comments

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  • March 20, 2019 at 9:21 am
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    I don’t like this idea AT all!

    Looking at the other Nub sites, it seems other hyperlocals will do all the work until they have the cash to ramp up and then wipe out those that provided their platforms with content.

    Also, some areas are being saturated already. The area I serve fits the 5,000 criteria but readers can get local news from a Reach site, two hyperlocals, the BBC and a local news station. We have managed to find a gap but this could be saturation if Nub rocks up.

    Hope I’m wrong.

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  • March 20, 2019 at 9:23 am
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    Sounds like a very good idea in principle, certainly publishers such as Archant have left huge holes in their operating areas by the decline of their weeklies content and dire ABC copy sales so with them being on an ever downward spiral, opportunities exist for a progressive new community news publisher to better serve the areas.
    My only reservation is with it being online only,still a medium very few will use unless it’s heavily promoted and high profile in the towns and cities as lack of awareness could be its major stumbling block so will be of paramount importance, local businesses too will want to know their advertising is being seen and responded too.
    A better option would be to offer backing and investment to the many ex regional press staff who are able and keen to provide hyper local newspapers but who are hesitant due to lack of funding or knowing where to start.
    Still, it’s a positive step so let’s hope something becomes of it.
    Good luck to all concerned.

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  • March 20, 2019 at 6:11 pm
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    One good experienced reporter would worth at least two rookie trainees at local news gathering.

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