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Former Reach editors to help launch new pop-up newspapers

Two former senior executives with Reach plc are to help launch a series of new titles in the North of England including ‘pop-up’ newspapers.

Online magazine The Lead is planning to launch ten weekly email newsletters with a focus on politics and culture, with initial editions being piloted in Blackpool, Bolton, Teesside and Stoke-on-Trent.

The project will be led by Ed Walker, former audience and content director for Reach, with the help of Luke Beardsworth, former editor of Lancs Live.

Ed, who will take on the role of lead editor (North) and Luke, who will be senior editor (North), both left Reach earlier this year amid a wave of senior departures from the business.

The Lead team - Ed Walker, Shirah Bamber, Dimi Reider, Luke Beardsworth and Natalie Morris

The Lead team – Ed Walker, Shirah Bamber, Dimi Reider, Luke Beardsworth and Natalie Morris

The pair subsequently set up a new audience development consultancy, Alma, which they will continue to run alongside their new roles.

The new initiative follows a major investment in The Lead by publisher Mike Harris who has committed a six-figure sum this year and a similar amount in 2024.

The initial four newsletters will be complemented by special edition pop-up print newspapers, with the aim for 100,000 newspapers to be distributed in the first half of next year.

All four areas are already served by the major publishers in the shape of National World’s Blackpool Gazette, Newsquest’s Bolton News, and Reach’s Teesside Gazette and Stoke Sentinel.

Said Ed: “Local journalism is vitally important for communities and it is evident from the scale of local digital audiences that local outlets currently enjoy the appetite for discovering what’s happening locally is very much alive.

“However, it’s not just about telling stories. We believe there’s an opportunity for communities locally to be enabled and connected by journalism and that as journalists and editors it’s also our responsibility to empower people.

“That’s why we’ll be taking The Lead to Blackpool, Stoke-on-Trent, Teesside and Bolton in the coming months and bringing our brand of local journalism to towns and cities often overlooked outside of London and the major metropolises of the North of England and we are also looking to work with existing local journalists and outlets to help embolden their local digital storytelling too.”

The team are inviting pitches and introductions from freelance writers, journalists and content creators in the four towns and cities along with tips and leads from local activists and whistleblowers.

Lead editor (national) Dimi Reider added: “After nearly 15 years of Tory misrule, the North is perhaps the worst-hit – and the most hopeful, defiant and dynamic region in England.

“It may well also be the region where the future of the entire country will be decided in the next General Election; but there are so many stories and struggles in the North that deserve coverage and campaigning in their own right, by and for the communities that live them.

“This is why we’re not merely appointing a correspondent or allocating a budget for stories about the North: we are setting up a parallel, autonomous newsroom in the North that’ll work in equal partnership with the London team.

“We are thrilled to be joined by editors as experienced and as enterprising as Ed and Luke, and can’t wait to help them lead on this ambitious expansion.”

The Lead’s national newsletter, which focuses on social topics such as racism, equality, tackling poverty and climate change, now has more than 50,000 weekly subscribers