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News site launched after print closures claims 76,000 readers a month

An independent website founded to “fill the void of local news” after the closure of two local newspapers say 76,000 people are now visiting it every month.

The Bedford Independent was launched late last year following the closure of Reach plc’s Bedfordshire on Sunday title and its short-lived successor, Bedfordshire Midweek.

Sic months after launch, the site is already getting 76,000 monthly visitors and 153,000 unique page views.

And it says a recent local election count live blog reached 34,760 unique readers in one day alone.

Bedford 6

The site was set up by former broadcast journalist Paul Hutchinson, and publishers Erica Roffe and Julia Course-Crofts, with Paul and Erica as co-managing editors.

Said Paul: “People in Bedford are passionate about where they live and it was clear within weeks of the BoS closing that genuine news coverage in the town had all but disappeared.

“Our goal was to establish a trusted news brand, delivering relevant, researched and well-reported news to the people of Bedford Borough and beyond.

“We knew that to build an organic following would take time, so to be delivering these incredible statistics in just six months is testament to the hard work we have dedicated to delivering daily news to Bedford.”

Added Erica: “The response from the public has been heart-warming and encouraging. But it’s also been frustrating that local news across the UK has diminished in such a way that local people are left desperate for high-quality journalism.

“What’s really incredible though is that what we’re doing isn’t rocket science. We’re just reporting what’s happening in an easy to access format as it happens.

“As the only news source based in the Borough, our editorial team are able to report on breaking news live from scene. We’re simply giving the people want they want.”

6 comments

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  • June 11, 2019 at 3:33 pm
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    I’m sorry to say but if a major newspaper group website was averaging 2,500 hits a day it would be closed down. Bedford has a population of 160,000. I’m sorry, well done to them and I hate to be overcome by typical HTFP comment negativeness but this is not “incredible” for six months work.

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  • June 11, 2019 at 4:06 pm
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    @Desker

    You’re right, but they aren’t a major newspaper group. They have achieved this from a standing start with a tiny team. It’s clear they’re growing so maybe full saturation isn’t out of reach in the next few months.

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  • June 11, 2019 at 4:36 pm
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    I’m sure if you looked hard enough @desker you’d find most local newspapers are getting barely 2,500 hits a day on their website anyway.

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  • June 12, 2019 at 10:46 am
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    @Desker. There’s a few key points here.
    Take away the young, uninterested and non english as a first language speakers from the Bedford Borough population and it is way below 160,000. If you’d spent as much time there as I had had to then you could probably almost half that number without them. Then there’s the fact that this site is aimed pretty much at Bedford only as opposed to the larger groups that have become Live sites for vast counties and share a large amount of national news and clickbait type stories. As far as I am aware you also still have the Times and Citizen in Bedford which was always the larger Newspaper by 50-70% in terms of pagination but I stand to be corrected if that’s no longer the case.
    For a small local independent site to be hitting the figures they are is astounding and only emphasises the comments of the departing editor when BOS was closed mainly due to geographical ignorance and without doubt cost cutting to bring it in to line with midweek practise and staffing. Moving it to a day in direct competition with a much larger product and retiring a name that was sort out and respected was stupid and ignorant especially as, in the words of the Editor, it was still profitable.

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  • June 12, 2019 at 1:24 pm
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    Well said @formerloyalfollower. This shows how short sighted it was of Reach to close down BoS and the way the Central and East region has been mismanaged over the last couple of years. Interesting that they use the old BoS Facebook page to try to send traffic to the Cambridge News. Seems a little desperate to me. The BoS had a great reputation and as one industry professional said to me after it closed, if they can’t make money out of BoS, they shouldn’t be in the newspaper business. Good luck Bedford Independent.

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