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Rival title’s ex-features editor heads team as Google-funded news site launches

A regional publisher’s city news website has officially launched with a rival title’s former features editor as its chief reporter.

Peterborough Matters is now live after being set up by Archant through the Google-funded initiative Project Neon, which will see the company launch three local news websites.

The site’s editorial team is headed up by chief reporter John Baker, who served as featured editor of the JPIMedia-owned Peterborough Telegraph between 2011 and 2014.

John is joined by two reporters – Shariqua Ahmed, who worked in newspapers in India before spending three years at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, and Carly Beech, who grew up in Peterborough and has previously worked at the Daily Star.

From left: Carly Beech, John Baker and Charlotte Moore

From left: Carly Beech, John Baker and Charlotte Moore

Content assistant Charlotte Moore, who is also a native of the city, completes the team.

HTFP has asked for clarification on who will be editing the title.

In a welcome message to readers, John said: “We will use our talents to make sure you know about important news like crime, road accidents, council meetings, and weather.

“We’ll also help connect the community more with compelling in-depth stories about the people, places, and events that make up the fabric of our community. You’ll learn about people you don’t know, stories you’ve not heard, and ideas you might not have considered.

“This is an experiment and we will aim to earn your trust each day with each story. Our partnership with the Google News Initiative enables us to meld the best of our editorial minds with Google’s expertise in best product practices.

“We will work together in a transparent and experimental way and share our learnings publicly.

“Your feedback is of critical importance and we hope you will share more of what’s important to you and why. We will have open-house events to engage with you where you can hear from those making the city tick.

“Thank you to all of you who have helped us as we’ve prepared for this launch. Your support means a lot and we will work to be worthy of it.”

Archant is set to announce the second of its three Project Neon sites in the coming weeks.

Emily Hewett, Archant’s head of audience, said: “Our team of reporters are doing a fantastic job of being visible and getting to the heart of what matters most to the local communities in Peterborough.

“The positive response from people who live and work in the city has exceeded all expectations and we are incredibly excited to see how the first of our Project Neon websites develops in the coming months.”

Jim Albrecht, product management director at Google, added: “Quality local journalism strengthens communities, supports an informed citizenry, and provides clarity and context for local officials. So it is critically important that we find sustainable approaches to the local news business.

“To this end, we’re delighted to partner with Archant in launching Peterborough Matters.

“By bringing Google’s funding and product support together with Archant’s editorial expertise, we hope to test and validate new business and product approaches that we can then scale across the industry to more broadly support the future of local news.”

2 comments

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  • February 14, 2020 at 1:34 pm
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    “…Quality local journalism strengthens communities..”

    In all seriousness has he actually seen Archants online, social media content and does he know how it’s/they’re perceived on the eastern counties communities?

    Looks like it’s gloves off for an all out turf war between Archant and JPI in Lincs and up against Reach in Torbay.
    With neither area able to sustain and support two main news providers there’ll no doubt be some fall out, however when it’s not your money you’re playing with it probably doesn’t matter

    Interesting times

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  • February 14, 2020 at 2:06 pm
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    By not announcing an editor it’s safe to assume this will be remotely edited as part of the wider group content function.
    If they do have an editor dedicated to this site you’d have thought they would have announced who it is and let him or her make the initial public announcement,if nothing else it’s a basic courtesy and standard publishing practice.

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