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Daily editor welcomes new rival amid criticism over tone of launch

Daniel Chipperfield 2023A regional daily’s editor has welcomed the launch of a new rival outlet covering the same patch.

Daniel Chipperfield, editor of the Newsquest-owned Swindon Advertiser, has wished “all the best” to the Ink, a digital-only title which will serve the Wiltshire town.

However, Daniel has joined other senior industry figures in criticising the tone of The Ink’s launch, claiming it has “sought to diminish other journalists’ work”.

In an announcement about its launch, The Ink pledged there “will be no advertising, no clickbait, no stories without any relevance to Swindon produced by people hundreds of miles away who couldn’t point to the town on a map”.

The Advertiser, which is headquartered in Swindon, recently won News Brand of the Year for its publisher Newsquest.

Posting on Twitter in response to HTFP’s story about the launch, Daniel wrote: “It’s a shame they have sought to diminish other journalists’ work as part of their launch, but it is great to see Swindon getting another news outlet.

“I wish The Ink all the best with its latest project.”

Advertiser reporter Daniel Wood added: “Very good news for the town – I look forward to joining The Ink in continuing the fight against ‘poor’ journalism from those who aren’t in the local area and ‘wouldn’t be able to point to Swindon on a map’ from our offices in Dorcan and my home in Coleview.”

Their sentiments were echoed by Ian Carter, editorial director of Iliffe Media, who wrote: “It would be nice if some of these new titles could launch without throwing insults at existing publishers. Lots of the usual stuff about clickbait and listicles here on what would otherwise be an interesting read.

“I have no dog in this fight – never even been to Swindon – but the fact remains none of the new start-ups have yet demonstrated they can generate enough revenue from subscriptions to fund more than one or two reporters.

“We all want to monetize our digital content but it is still a relatively small cohort willing to pay for news in the UK. We are some way off having business models in which advertising makes no contribution.

“We also all want the same thing – a sustainable future for regional journalism – so maybe we should all stop rubbishing each other? Just a thought.”

Daniel Jae Webb, editor of independent title Wiltshire 999s, added: “Many journalists working on news in Swindon live in the town and embrace it, many grew up there – including myself, it is my hometown and I know the place like the back of my hand.

“I spent the first five years of my news career cycling the streets to cover stories across the borough, sometimes racking up 100 miles a day. There are plenty of local reporters who spend time in the community, covering stories that matter locally.

“I fully support The Ink, I love the idea and I wish them every success. However, I do wonder if the model is sightly flawed – given that if a story breaks on Friday evening, subscribers will only receive the news at 3pm on Monday. By that time, they would have been able to read it elsewhere.

“Wiltshire 999s is available to our readers 24/7. It’s free and easy to access, and breaking news is always published swiftly – with professional photography wherever possible.

“Mr Hill said that ‘the local newspaper industry is a shadow of its former self’, and whilst staffing levels and budgets are much lower now, the Swindon Advertiser is doing fabulous work covering real tales that matter to local people.

“I understand readers’ frustrations with advertising, but most people won’t pay for online news – so displaying adverts is the only option. My website relies heavily on digital advertising, but we lose revenue by opting out of more intrusive adverts like pop-up surveys to keep our readers happy.”

HTFP has approached The Ink for a comment.