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Independent city news title breaks even two years after launch

Joshi HerrmannAn independent city news title has revealed it has started turning a profit two years after launching.

The Manchester Mill has announced it is now paying its way after attracting 1,500 readers to pay for a subscription to its website.

The milestone means subscribers now cover the funding of the Mill’s staff, freelancers, administrative costs and marketing.

The Mill was launched in June 2020 by former national journalist Joshi Herrmann with the aim of offering local news “without endless pop-up ads or misleading ‘clickbait’ headlines”.

Joshi, pictured, said in an update to readers on Sunday that breaking even was “a huge moment for us”.

He wrote: “Together we have built a new media company, totally from scratch and with new ideas about what local journalism should look like, and it is sustainable.

“It is sustaining itself financially. And, to the great disappointment of our unfortunate detractors, it is here to stay.

“Most importantly, it means we can now embark on the next phase of the Mill’s life: instead of surviving day to day, we can now start growing into the mature, well-staffed local newspaper that this city needs. As one of the team put it on Friday, ‘now the real work begins’.

“A lot of new media projects rely on massive charitable grants in order to cover their costs, but I felt from the beginning that the Mill would only have proved its right to exist, and proved that there is an appetite for this kind of journalism, if it could become self-sustaining.

“That way, there is no cliff edge approaching when the grants run out, and no kidding yourself about how popular your work really is.”

Initially a digital-only venture, the Mill last year ran a trial print edition last year.

Following Sunday’s announcement, 50 further subscribers joined the title in 24 hours – paying either £7 per month or £1.40 per week if they take out an annual subscription.

Joshi, who has “poured tens of thousands” of his own money into the project, added: “Our mission now is to take the type of journalism we’ve developed as a tiny team and apply it to more and more important stories. What you’ve been reading this year is the ‘minimum viable’ version of the Mill — and it’s fantastic that it is now breaking even.

“But imagine how good it will be with 3,000 members and twice the staff, when we are able to write more about miscarriages of justice, the nitty-gritty of how this city is run, culture, business and other topics you ask about.

“Imagine what a powerhouse we will be when we have 5,000, and we can have a dedicated investigative unit and specialist reporters for key areas like education and health.

“Trust me people — that is where we are heading. This project seemed like a massive long shot when we started out — when some of you joined the email list when it numbered in the hundreds — but I believed in it and so did you.”