My post about the success of US ultra-local journalist-owned websites has prompted Ted Pugh to point me towards his Canveybeat local news blog on Canvey Island in Essex
He has been making waves with some punchy reporting about local MP Bob Spink’s expenses.
He says he is currently getting around 3,000 hits a month. He is now planning to spend two days a week working on the blog and has asked his readers what they want him to cover.
Canvey Island has a population of 45,000 hemmed in by the sea – so should be perfect local newspaper territory. But Pugh says it only has a monthly free newspaper which he describes as an ‘advertising sheet’and he adds that The Echo, a daily newspaper covering all of Essex, no longer has the resources to cover the island full time.
Pugh says he has been particularly alarmed by the lack of coverage of Canvey Island’s newly-formed town council.
He writes on his personal blog: “Since its inauguration, and thirty meetings later, the press have only attended on eight separate occasions. Is this the reason why the profession fought so hard for the 1960 Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act?
“I have been so enraged by this abandonment of duty. No – I have been so enraged by this abandonment of privilege – that I have set-up a local community blog in an attempt to fill the gap. I do not know if it is going to be successful. I do not even know, at this stage, if there is still an appetite for local community news. But I do know one thing: I would be failing in my duty as a journalist if I did not try to do something about the current state of affairs.”
Good luck Ted. If he can build up the traffic I think his blog will provide a great vehicle for Canvey Island advertisers who can reach local readers – while doing their bit to uphold democracy on the island to boot.