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Football writer whose role was axed joins rival publisher in new venture


A football journalist whose role was axed in recent cutbacks has joined a rival publisher after it set up a new website to cover his club.

As previously reported by HTFP, James Hunter left Reach plc after 24 years and 1,152 games when his role as Sunderland reporter for Newcastle daily The Chronicle was scrapped.

But James has swiftly bounced back with a new role at We Are Sunderland, a new subscription website entirely dedicated to the club recently launched by rival publisher Newsquest.

James, pictured, will be writing a weekly column for the new standalone site which went live earlier this month.

Subscribers to We Are Sunderland will receive an exclusive daily newsletter with bespoke news, features and analysis for an introductory offer of £1 for the next six months.

Content will be produced by a new team of dedicated Sunderland writers as well as existing football writers at sister title The Northern Echo.

The site will be edited by Echo editor Gavin Foster, who welcomed James’s arrival in a post on X, describing him as a “great signing.”

And in an introductory piece, James said he was delighted to be part of the new venture.

“When the call came saying ‘fancy writing a weekly column for We Are Sunderland?’, I jumped at the chance,” he wrote.

“A column is current. It provides the narrative that accompanies the results, savouring the successes but never shying away from asking the difficult questions when necessary.

“In becoming a columnist, I will be trading the challenge of following the daily twists and turns for the scope to look at the bigger picture, explore some of the broader issues surrounding the club, put events into context and, of course, spark debate.

“Joining We Are Sunderland is an exciting new adventure for me, at a website that aims to cover Sunderland in a fresh and innovative way. I’m delighted to be part of it.”

Writing in the Echo earlier this month, chief sports writer Scott Wilson said: “We’ve always prided ourselves on providing the best possible coverage of Sunderland. Sometimes, though, we’ve wanted to do more.

“So, to mark the start of 2024, we’ve launched a new standalone website – We Are Sunderland – that will take our ability to cover the Black Cats to a whole new level.

“With a new team of dedicated Sunderland writers, as well as the expertise of our existing football writers at The Northern Echo, We Are Sunderland is the new home for anyone with a passion for the club.

“It’s going to be different to The Northern Echo website because it’s only going to be about Sunderland. We’ll have reporters at every game, but rather than producing the usual match reports, they’ll be taking deep dives into the key talking points or issues around the match as well as producing a plethora of audio and video content.

“There’ll be exclusive long-read interviews and features, as well as data analysis pieces and tactical debriefs. There’ll be columns from former players and fans groups. There’ll also be a daily video on a dedicated We Are Sunderland YouTube channel at 9.30am every morning discussing the day’s events with a range of special guests.

“The Northern Echo will continue to publish our usual extensive Sunderland coverage, both online and in print, but We Are Sunderland is a brand-new venture, and we’re hugely excited about the potential it offers to transform the way we inform and interact with Sunderland fans.”

James began his career as a news reporter at the Telegraph and Argus in 1994 before joining the Yorkshire Evening Post the following year and the Chronicle in 1999.

His role as Sunderland reporter was one of a number of dedicated club writer roles that were axed in the Reach cutbacks along with those covering Huddersfield Town, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday and West Bromwich Albion.