Archant launches website in Google-backed project to find sustainable local news model

Archant has launched its first experimental local news website as part of a multi-million pound partnership with Google to find a sustainable model for regional journalism.

The publisher, which owns more than 50 local UK news titles, including the Eastern Daily Press, said the site would test “different editorial approaches and business models” to make local news pay.

Local print newspaper sales are shrinking as people increasingly get their news online, with print advertising also impacted. However digital ads are failing to make up the losses.

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Peterborough Matters (pictured) is the first of three news websites to launch as part of Project Neon, funded by Google’s Local Experiments Project, and went live today.

Its three-strong editorial team is made up of reporters John Baker, Shariqua Ahmed and Carly Beech.

All three have lived in Peterborough for years and have a “deep connection to the city”, something Archant said was important when putting the team together before Christmas last year.

The reporters have held meetings with residents at venues across the city in recent weeks ahead of the site’s launch today.

“We want to be visible, we want to get to the heart of our communities and we want our readers to know that they can find us in and around Peterborough – and we want to talk,” Archant said.

Readers can also sign up for regular email newsletters

Although the publisher admitted that with a small reporting team the site would not be able to cover “everything and anything”, it would be “covering the topics that matter most” to locals.

“Our purpose is simple, we want to tell the stories that have been overlooked, report on issues that matter to all corners of the city’s diverse communities and take a fresh look at the way in which we cover local news,” Archant said.

It said the website is an “experiment” that would “meld the best of our editorial minds with Google’s expertise in building engaging digital experiences and understanding user journeys”.

It has committed to sharing what it learns with the news industry.

Jim Albrecht, product management director at Google, added: “Quality local journalism strengthens communities, supports an informed citizenry, and provides clarity and context for local officials. So it is critically important that we find sustainable approaches to the local news business.”

He added: “By bringing Google’s funding and product support together with Archant’s editorial expertise, we hope to test and validate new business and product approaches that we can then scale across the industry to more broadly support the future of local news.”

Emily Hewett, Archant’s head of audience, said there had been a “positive response from people who live and work in the city” to the new site.

A second local news website is expected to launch in the coming weeks.

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Comments

10 thoughts on “Archant launches website in Google-backed project to find sustainable local news model”

  1. Monday March 30th
    Having just seen Kelly’s whining plea to the public to support his online sites i didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
    Here’s a content chief going cap in hand to the public expecting them to shell out their hard earned cash to prop up an online business which regularly uses the public’s own FB posts,their own photos and directly lifted quotes,has inexperienced ( I assume) staffers posting inaccurate and amateurishly written posts which are then ridiculed by the public, top and tails PR handouts and passes it off as news, posts irrelevant and non local filler throughout the day and has an over reliance on ICYMI click bait.i won’t even mention them encouraging Norfolk people to go to a free day out at aeast coast Model Village last Sunday!! When my friend sent me the link I was dumbfounded at their crass stupidity and irresponsibility during the cv crisis.
    Then he has the cheek to call all this “ essential community news”!
    Archant have been given millions from Google already to come up with sustainable ways to fund online only news yet here he is asking the public to give him more money just to do his job.

    Maybe get the many many many commercial directors to start delivering after accepting under performance or ship them out, that’ll save you a fortune in one fell swoop!

    It’s your job to ensure Archant content ( not just the dire TNE) is local,engaging and hyper relevant enough to warrant people buying it, not going cap in hand for subs

  2. I wonder how Ex Mirror night editor Kelly feels about Reach ramping up the number of additional journalists they’re taking on to turbo charge their “live” series of online news sites?
    With the number and quality of those they’ve appointed It looks like they’ll leave Archants less than impressive Google funded Peterborough Matters and the other two yet to be announced offerings in the slow lane.

    Hopefully Reach can share their skills and knowledge of how they develop and monetise their own self funded news sites with the industry at large and maybe then Google might reconsider who they throw their millions at and put it where it’s most likely to succeed.

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