Thursday, October 13, 2022

GUEST POST A newspaper for and by Leicester people

Reece Stafferton reveals the plans for the Great Central Gazette, a not-for-profit newspaper for Leicester launching in 2023.

Leicester - a city which was served by a sole regional newspaper until a few months ago - is on the brink of change. 

I’m helping to launch the Great Central Gazette: a not-for-profit newspaper, written by and for local people in Leicester. 

Our ambition is to hold power to account, work with the community to fix big issues, and partner with local groups to present journalism workshops for anyone hoping to learn new skills. 

It’ll be run as a co-operative, a type of model where members get to vote on how the business is run. We begin publishing early next year.

Why are we doing this? Well, ideally, journalism would represent everyone. 

We should be able to tell our stories with our own voices and come together as a community to amplify disadvantaged, marginalised and under-represented people. We need newspapers created with and for the people who feel like they’re being let down by existing media.

In reality, current local newspapers in the city don’t go far enough to spark positive change. This is, in part, because they’re owned by a handful of wealthy individuals and organisations. 

Some of the reporting they do is good, but these newspapers used to care about the community. They informed, safeguarded, and grew every facet of local life. 

They’ve now transformed into money-making schemes. The newsroom’s dominating voice has become advertising income. A newspaper’s revenue is proportional to the number of website clicks it receives. Journalists write dozens of pieces a day to get our attention, and they use clickbait and strikingly non-local subject matters to do so. That isn’t sustainable.

The consequences of this is that the quality of journalism isn’t as it should be, with recycled press releases and paid for advertorials becoming the norm. 

The current model fails to represent people without a voice, prevents newspapers from investigating stories in detail, and generally doesn’t offer any solutions to the problems facing the city.

We’re not the first to attack the status quo. At the Gazette, we’re inspired by other independent media outlets like the Bristol Cable, who are running a co-operative model in their city. 

On our patch, we will cover unreported local news, showcase the history of Leicester, unpack stats and data, hold debates and open discussions, publish comment from local people, publish investigative features with solutions at their core, profile interesting people doing good in the community, and give a platform to the arts, literature, independent film and more.

The Gazette is in its infancy, but it’s ready to grow. Independent media, like The Gazette, are one of the fastest growing media industries in the UK. Chip into our crowdfunder, running until 14 November, to support our mission. 

Reece Stafferton is helping to launch the Great Central Gazette. You can follow him on Twitter.


nigel hunter said...

Is it possible in Leicester that the loss of Labour council seats could be cos the paper(s) reflect their owners views NOT the peoples wants ,needs.?

Phil Beesley said...

Local politics and the Leicester Mercury are infrequent mates. Aside from Peter Soulbsby's latest grand scheme, City Council activities are rarely reported. Whatever the Council is up to, you won't read about it in the Mercury. If you want clickbait and trivia, it's all there, along with 109 advertising trackers (19 more than the Daily Mail).

When a newspaper loses all of its on the ground reporters, it is unable to report on fires or accidents, let alone analytical politics. There are these events called "police incidents" -- 6,000 or so in recent years -- when something happened but the Mercury doesn't know what.

Jonathan Calder said...

Nigel: Labour hold almost all the seats on the city council. They lost in North Evington last night because they chose the wrong candidate.

Phil: All newspapers, even nationals, seem locked in a downward spiral of falling revenue, staff cuts and a worsening product.