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Online news war heats up as local publisher launches national site

Thomas SinclairAn online news war is heating up after an independent publisher announced a national expansion.

Herald News UK Ltd has announced the launch of Herald.Wales, a new bilingual service which will cover the whole of Wales – and which will back Welsh independence – from this morning.

The announcement comes after Newsquest unveiled the launch of The National Wales, which will be largely based online and is set to go live on Monday.

Nation.Cymru, another independent title covering the whole of Wales, has also appointed its first permanent editor in recent days.

Herald News, which has had a controversial history and almost went out of business in 2019, says it is investing “a considerable sum” over the next two years to provide news in both English and Welsh.

The company’s South & West Wales editor Thomas Sinclair, pictured, hopes the new service will “complement” bigger titles such as Reach plc’s Wales Online and BBC Wales.

Said Thomas: “We’ve built a network of contributors across Wales to provide news for every area. We will report on local news, news from Wales’s regions, and Welsh national news in Welsh and English. Video content will be important to us.

“Our introductory video has already gained plenty of views and our new Facebook page is getting more followers daily.

“We are confident there is space in the market for a genuinely independent online news source for Wales, to complement what is being offered by the bigger players such as the WalesOnline and BBC Wales websites.”

As well as breaking news, coverage will include politics, entertainment, sport, and opinions from a number of contributors – including Matthew Paul, Columnist of the Year winner at the 2019 Wales Media Awards.

Political editor Jon Coles said the site’s planned launch had also been 1 March, which is St David’s Day, but this had been brought forward due to Newsquest’s announcement.

He said: “Launching a national news platform is something we’ve been thinking of for two years.

“The pandemic and lockdowns made us put the project on pause. Despite Covid-19, our print title, the Pembrokeshire Herald, has bucked the trend of shrinking circulation and that’s encouraged us to take this next step.”

“We provisionally chalked in St David’s Day to launch. However, the late entrance of US-owned Newsquest to the market with The National came as a surprise. We had already set up and were trialling our website and tweaking it in the autumn.”

Added Jon: “We will report every political view. Herald.Wales starts from the position that Wales should have the choice over whether to be an independent country.

“That doesn’t mean we’re an uncritical voice in support of independence. We’re realistic about the challenges it presents us as a nation.

“We will report each side of the debate so our readers can form their own opinions on Wales’ future. However, our sentiment will favour an independent Wales.”

Herald advertising sales manager Brian Hancock added: “Despite the slow down in revenues to all commercial news organisations due to the pandemic, we have secured commitments which will ensure the future of the new site.”

“I would like to thank the nearly 5,000 Welsh businesses who have supported The Herald since we launched the eight years ago, and who are continuing to support our independent news with our weekly print publication, the Pembrokeshire Herald – and now Herald.Wales.”