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Journalists vow to shun pop-up ads and ‘clickbait’ as they go up against old paper

Three journalists who have launched a local news website in competition with their old employer are vowing their new title will shun “pop-up ads” and so-called “clickbait.”

The Stroud Times has been launched as an online-only venture by editor Ash Loveridge, journalist Matt Bigwood, and photographer Carl Hewlett, all of whom formerly worked at the Stroud News and Journal.

In a piece announcing the title’s launch, they have pledged to “provide free-to-view local content devoid of a clickbait agenda and pop-up adverts”.

The colleagues, pictured below, say the Times will focus on “engaging human interest stories, comprehensive sports coverage, supporting and championing local businesses’ success, and leading the way with high-quality photography and video”.

From left: Matt Bigwood, Ash Loveridge and Carl Hewlett

From left: Matt Bigwood, Ash Loveridge and Carl Hewlett

Ash began his career on the Stroud Mercury before moving to The Citizen, in Gloucester.

He then went on to spend 18 years as sports editor of the News and Journal, bur has more recently been working on a freelance basis for BBC Sport and Sky.

He said: “I’m delighted to launch this new venture alongside Matt and Carl and we’re extremely excited to bring something fresh to the town and the surrounding area.

“We believe there’s a need for a news website that really connects with the people it serves.”

Matt, who previously worked as a photographer for the News and Journal, co-founded the Wotton Times with Simon Hacker in 2018, a paid-for hyperlocal newspaper covering Wotton-under-Edge and surrounding areas in Gloucestershire.

He began his career in the 1980s at the Bailey Newspaper Group.

Carl also began his career at the News and Journal, working alongside Ash as the staff photographer before moving on to an agency covering news and Premiership rugby union.

In 2017, he turned freelance providing commercial photography and design services to brands across the UK and has spent time during the recent lockdown constructing the new Stroud Times website.

Said Carl: “The Stroud District has such a vibrant community that deserves a fresh news website that engages and informs.

“I believe Stroud Times will be a welcome source of information to both residents and businesses alike.”