Journalists to cash in on website sale

The 20-plus journalists working on are expected to receive bonuses averaging at least £50,000 when the £87m sale of the site is completed.

The sale, to, was announced two weeks ago, making the site's founder Martin Lewis one of the most financially successful UK journalists in history.

Lewis started the site nine years ago with £100 as a place to host his Sunday Express newspaper columns and a way to publish a money-saving tips email he had been sending to friends.

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Today it is the most popular money website in the UK – with 13 million unique users a month.

The site doesn't carry advertising, but only paid-for links for many of the products it mentions. Lewis is reportedly set to pocket £35m in cash and 22.1m in shares as part of the deal and plans to give £10m to charity.

He told Press Gazette a sum comprising 'single digit'millions will be divided between the site's 40 staff (more than half of whom are editorial) on completion of the deal.

Lewis is a member of the NUJ and continues to write a column for the Daily Telegraph and appear on TV as financial pundit.

He doubted whether it would be possible for a journalist today to repeat his success without 'hundreds of thousands of pounds of advertising spend and hardcore PR". But he added: 'Some 20 years ago this could not have happened. An individual journalist, and not a particularly high profile one, could not have started a publication in less than ten years that has become the biggest money publication in the country.

'What that says is if your content is new and people are interested in reading it, there's a real freedom to get your journalism out there – unrestrained by the old publications."

Talking about the secret of the site's success, he said: 'When you are working on the web you need to identify with what people are interested in and not necessarily what's news.

'When we write a story on car insurance, hardly anyone reads it, what they want to know about is how they can get it cheaper.You need to give them what they want."

For Lewis, the fact that the editorial team does its own independent research regardless of who pays for the links is sacrosanct. This, and the independence of the editorial, has been hardwired into the deal via an editorial code. If the code is broken, Lewis notes, there are multi-million pound penalty clauses.

This piece first appeared in last week's edition of Press Gazette – Journalism Weekly. Register here to receive your free copy of Press Gazette – Journalism Weekly



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