The Exeter Daily, a citizen journalism website launched by former Northcliffe editor Marc Astley, has clocked up almost 90,000 hits in its first two months.
Astley and the team behind the website, which was launched in October, said they were “bowled over” by the response from both users and advertisers.
Analytics seen by Press Gazette show that more than 15,000 people visited the site since its launch on 6 October, with 88,000 page impressions.
Close to 700 individuals, businesses and groups have registered as users of the site.
Top stories over the past two months include articles on flooding, a mum who went on the run with her son to prevent him having cancer treatment and a fatal motorway accident.
“The statistics are beyond of our wildest expectations,” Astley, former editor of the Exeter Express & Echo, told Press Gazette.
“We have achieved in two months what we hoped might be possible in six.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. People seem to like our non-proprietorial model and the agenda-free nature of the website.
“I knew from the beginning there was a niche for an independent site written by and for its users however, I didn’t realise just how much of an appetite for what we are doing there was. We have been bowled over.”
The Daily UK Ltd, which is The Exeter Daily’s parent company, has also been on a recruitment drive, hiring former Northcliffe man Adrian Searl as advertising director.
The team has also been bolstered by the arrival of Adam Stone, who runs one of Devon’s leading digital agencies.
In an apparent response to October’s launch, Northcliffe has modified its thisisexeter.co.uk website.
Unlike many other Northcliffe (which is being sold to the Local World consortium) websites, thisisexeter.co.uk is branded with the Exeter Express & Echo masthead and features more news content on the front of the website.
Astley is planning to roll out the network to other towns and cities across the UK, with several locations already earmarked.
Natalie Vizard, the former editor of Archant's Somerset Life magazine, is editor of The Exter Daily, which is based close to the Echo's offices on the Sowton Industrial Estate in Exeter.