Web site boss says his success is down to local press's failure

By Colin Crummy

The editor of an ultra-local independent news website has claimed
his venture is succeeding because local newspapers are failing to do
their job properly.

Brian Jenner, editor of Newspad, a local news and information web
site for Paddington and Bayswater, said that there had been “a total
failure” in local news reporting that led to him setting up the site.

Jenner said: “They [local newspapers] don’t have any sense of idealism anymore. I
was annoyed that the local press is full of adverts for prostitutes and
massage parlours – it’s not something middle class people will buy.”

Newspad,
which celebrates its sixth birthday in October, runs in conjunction
with a network of community sites on londonvoices.com. Jenner said it
receives 1,000 visitors a month and has 1,300 registered subscribers.
The site is sponsored by a private surveying company, Porter &
Company.

He added: “There’s no sense of civic responsibility and
London voices wanted something that crystallised their sense of place –
where they lived.”

Jenner admitted that it was difficult to maintain a steady readership. “In transient communities people don’t want to buy local newspapers. The
stock in trade is births, deaths and marriages – in central London 99
per cent of people wouldn’t know the name of the local councillor.”

But
the trend for independent community news online is reflected in the
fact that craigslist, one of the largest local community portals in the
world, is hoping to produce more community news stories. Creator Craig
Newmark said he hopes the site, which started in San Francisco 10 years
ago, can serve as a forum for volunteer journalists to take on
hard-hitting topics, including investigative stories. The ninth biggest
portal in the US, craigslist has 1.5 billion page views per month and
now spans 34 countries. It is estimated it drew $10bn in revenue last
year.

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