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‘Mistake to work with regional publisher’, says media entrepreneur

Huw MarshallThe co-founder of two projects that were closed by a regional publisher said it was a “mistake” to work with the company.

Huw Marshall has publicly criticised Newsquest following the closures of both The National Wales, a primarily English language paper and website, and Welsh language service Corgi.Cymru.

Both The National Wales and Corgi.Cymru shut last year, the former following an 18-month run and the latter after just five months in business.

Huw, pictured, was involved in setting up both titles as part of the New Media Wales project and is now aiming to launch a new independent title called Talking Wales, creating seven new journalism jobs.

Speaking to the BBC about his new project, he said: “We’re talking about creating a business where the people own the company. We’re not in the hands of a big business with headquarters in North America or London.

“Looking back, it was a mistake to collaborate with a company where, ultimately, money is the bottom line. I would have expected a major news company to have been able to create better business plans.”

Gavin Thompson, Newsquest’s regional editor for Wales, told the BBC the publisher had hope to “strengthen the Welsh national media landscape” with the projects, but admitted sometimes “publishing initiatives do not succeed”.

He further claimed the BBC’s online services had a “disproportionate impact” on the commercial market, making it “harder for an independent publisher to build a subscription model”.

Corgi.Cymru was established with financial support from Books Council Wales, which awarded Newsquest a grant of £100,000 a year over four years.

The Welsh Government said it was “satisfied the procurement process undertaken by the Books Council of Wales was robust, open and fair, and that the reasons for the cessation of service were due to external factors and changing circumstances outside the control of both the Books Council and Newsquest”.

Huw hopes Talking Wales, a radio-based service that aims to focus on Welsh politics and current affairs, will create 13 jobs in total, including seven journalism roles, with an estimated launch date of 2024.

Newsquest declined to comment further when approached by HTFP.