Guardian Local axed and four jobs in doubt

Guardian News & Media has announced the closure of its regional news project Guardian Local just over a year after it was launched.

The move puts a question over the future of the four journalists involved in the project including editor Sarah Hartley.

Guardian Local saw the creation of three websites covering Cardiff, Edinburgh and Leeds, with ‘beatbloggers’brought on board to cover areas such as local councils and community groups. The project was launched in March 2010.

Announcing the end of the project yesterday, GNM head of digital engagement Meg Pickard described it as an ‘experiment in new models of local journalism – to see whether they could be editorially and commercially viable”.

She added: ‘As an experiment in covering local communities in a new way, it has been successful and enlightening. Unfortunately, while the blogs have found engaged local readerships and had good editorial impact, the project is not sustainable in its present form.”

A Guardian News & Media spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm that the Guardian Local project will be coming to an end. Despite a great deal of enthusiasm and support for this experimental approach to local journalism, it is clear that significant further investment would be required for the project to grow and develop.

‘We have therefore reluctantly taken the decision to bring the experiment to a close. The nature of digital innovation means investing in and trying new things, but also knowing when to call it a day.”

The three ‘beatbloggers’working on the project were John Baron in Leeds, Hannah Waldram in Cardiff and Michael MacLeod in Edinburgh.

Asked if any jobs would be lost as a result of the closure, a spokesperson commented: ‘We are in consultation with the individuals involved in the Guardian Local project (three beatbloggers and the editor, Sarah Hartley), but this is currently a private matter.”

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