Reporter uses redundancy cheque to set up sports site

Former regional sports journalist Rick Waghorn hopes to show there is life beyond falling circulations and increasing job threats, by launching his own website devoted to Norwich City FC.

After 14 years with Archant's Norwich Evening News, Waghorn took the offer of redundancy in April and launched rickwaghorn.co.uk as an alternative to Norwich FC's official website.

A senior advertising executive at Archant, Kevin O'Gorman, also made redundant, is working on the website along with former Evening News subeditor Neil Mason, who helped launch NME.com.

"It's a voyage of discovery," said Waghorn, a self-confessed "techno ignoramus" and former BT Southeast Provincial Sports Journalist of the Year.

He added: "I happened to come across an article on the future of local papers. The analogy they gave was with the music industry — people still want to hear new music and new bands, but they aren't prepared to buy CDs.

"Similarly the demand for good writing and informed analysis is still there, but readers, particularly the next generation, are increasingly going to access it via the internet or on their mobile phone."

Waghorn's £12,500 helped fund the project, which he estimates will cost £20,000 to launch.

"We offer informed and independent analysis, comment and transfer speculation, from a source that hopefully readers have grown to trust. And unlike all the fan sites on the web, I'm an accredited journalist who will go and talk to players and sit in on the manager's press conferences."

Having broken the ground, Waghorn said his is a model that can easily be franchised to cover other clubs for a fraction of the funds he had to find.

He added: "I'm no different from any other provincial reporter covering their local team. You become a brand with recognition and trust from the readers.

"It then requires a leap of faith that the brand is strong enough to cater for the needs of this niche market, and that you can put it where they live their lives."

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