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Ex-BBC boss to create journalism jobs with launch of local news website

Stray FerretA former BBC boss is setting up a local news website to combat a “real concern about a lack of accountability” in her hometown – creating journalism jobs in the process.

Tamsin O’Brien, who was head of BBC Yorkshire and also worked as head of local programmes for BBC North West, is set to launch The Stray Ferret, which will cover the Harrogate area.

Tamsin has so far recruited four journalists for the site, and is planning to take on more. The Stray Ferret is currently advertising for a senior reporter via HoldtheFrontPage, and further details can be found here.

Of her site’s launch, Tamsin said: “We will be a mix of daily news and investigations. We know there is a real concern about a lack of accountability locally with little challenge to decision makers.

“We want to look at the efficacy of our public bodies and the work of our local elected representatives at all levels.

“The Harrogate district has a reputation for having a high standard of living and it is a beautiful area but, as elsewhere, there are real issues with housing, drug crime, transport and the provision of health services.

“We know there are many human impact stories that simply don’t get told. The Stray Ferret will be a platform for a broader range of voices to be heard.”

Harrogate has traditionally been served by JPIMedia-owned weekly the Harrogate Advertiser.

The new publication’s name is a play on words around the Stray, which is the 200 acres of green space in the centre of Harrogate owned by the Crown, and the Ferret – “flat caps and ferrets” being a Yorkshire cliché.

The Stray Ferret has applied for Impress regulation and the company aims to become a member of the Independent Community News Network.

It has been set up as a limited company by Tmasin and her partner, who is a local businessman, and she says it will aim for long term sustainability through advertising.

Tamsin said: “The struggle will be to make this kind of local journalism commercially viable but we will try. Our stories will be well researched, accurate and impartial. People living in the district are very engaged in their area and I believe we will have impact and develop a significant following.”

She added: “We’ll have a great mix of experienced former newspaper journalists who’ve worked for years locally and graduates who are learning their craft. I’d like to be offering internships and developing the next generation of journalists.”

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  • February 21, 2020 at 9:15 am
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    “The struggle will be to make this kind of local journalism commercially viable…”
    The real struggle is for those whose content is aimed at attracting clicks like and online ‘popularity’ Top quality, relevant and hyper localised content will always find an audience and that alone will attract local businesses keen to reach them,I wish

    Tamsin and all the team all the best with this bright new initiative,nice one!

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