In a more practical sense, we had no capital apart from donations from the directors and so we set up a WordPress blog, paying a modest amount for a theme, and we got in touch with local companies and the council and asked them to put us on their mailing lists for press releases. Then we spent lots of time learning the patch and making contacts. Facebook has been a particularly good way to reach the online community in Port Talbot not many are using Twitter yet , and drives about half our website traffic.
What other blogs, bloggers or websites influenced you? We set up our own crowdfunding model called Pitch-in! Us , although we changed the idea a bit to suit a more hyperlocal audience. I love what Spot. Us has done to empower freelance journalists and as this was at the heart of our enterprise we have been really keen to offer this as a service to our members.
How did — and do — you see yourself in relation to a traditional news operation? But I think we all believe in the principles behind traditional newsrooms and the power they have to be a force for good in the community as a watchdog or a voice. For right or wrong, journalists can ask the questions that perhaps get ignored when members of the public ask them, and even with our limitations we are able to perform this aspect of newsroom journalism.
In future we hope we will become more sustainable so we can pay journalists and operate a more professional service, but this will always be in co- operation with the local community. We always have a day every week where people can call in to the office and speak to us, which is what all local newsrooms used to do.
Another big milestone has also been paying journalists for their skills, which we have started to do in the last few months.
What sort of traffic do you get and how has that changed over time? We get a consistent 3, unique visitors every month now, which has more than trebled in a year. We have seen some great peaks around some of our coverage, too — notably stories about The Passion , a landscape theatre production which took place in Port Talbot in and starred locally-raised Hollywood star Michael Sheen.
We have also had great responses to our coverage of protests and campaigns, crime and local elections. The lack of funding and the lack of resources. Three of our seven directors have full time jobs, one has failing health and the other three have freelance or other commitments, and so progress can sometimes be frustratingly slow as we try to recruit or train volunteers and manage the website, finances and keep our contacts live.
But we are still here, and the project continues to chalk up successes. When the Guardian closed, filling the news gap in the towns seemed an obvious step for us to take, and so we began to work towards providing a news service for Neath and Port Talbot.
By the end of , we were incorporated, had a memorandum of articles and a mission statement. We had a Board of seven directors now eight and a further dozen or so members — all professional journalists. We had some early business meetings with the Swansea Business Centre, who advised us to split the very different towns of Neath and Port Talbot and concentrate on establishing the business successfully in one area first to avoid over-stretching ourselves.
We were incubated from an early stage by the Port Talbot charity NSA, who had given us some free office space, and so we decided to concentrate our efforts in Port Talbot as we already had a base and some contacts there. The next year was spent meeting AMs, councillors and local community leaders, and filling in funding application forms.
Though we received much support from the local community, we did not receive any funding, and financed our operations with small donations from the directors, who had largely by now found employment in PR or policy roles. Without any capital to fund news gathering, carry out market research or establish a print product, the first year was dispiriting. As journalists we perhaps lacked the necessary skills in business and marketing to achieve our goals.
We manned the office and filled in application forms as volunteers with lots of encouragement from local people, but found no real way to make the business pay.
By the end of we took the decision to stop applying for funding and to concentrate our efforts instead on doing something we knew we could do well: journalism. Using the free content management system Wordpress, a site for bloggers, we launched the news website Local News Port Talbot www. This was an opportunity for us to learn multi-media journalism skills, technical skills and, more importantly, demonstrate what we wanted to provide.
This proved to be the best decision we could have made. Not long afterwards, we received a huge boost for our project, by being invited to become a community partner of the National Theatre Wales production, The Passion, starring Michael Sheen.
We were given unbeatable access to the cast and crew before the production, as well as access to the performances during the production, and we were able to provide a unique multi-media record of the three-day event as it unfolded. This is now on our website. Another important development for us has been to institute systems for running the website. This person checks and responds to emails, moderates comments, commissions articles and subedits work. They also delegate as much as possible to the other members of the team.
This keeps the level of work manageable for the volunteers, who all have other jobs and other commitments. One of our directors, Rachel Howells, successfully applied for a funded PhD at the School of Journalism to study what happens to a town when they lose their local newspaper.
She is one year in to the project, and Port Talbot is her case study. The PhD is funded by KESS, a European fund distributed by the Welsh Assembly Government, as well as Cardiff University and the Media Standards Trust, and it fits into a wide jigsaw of other research that reflects deep concern with declines in newspaper circulations and the number of journalists employed by the local press, and what these declines might mean for the way news and democracy work together.
Rachel will attempt to discover the depth of the news decline in Wales and Port Talbot, and the ramifications for democracy in the face of encroaching news poverty. She will carry out five different pieces of research.
The second piece of research will apply the same measures to a modern day sample, which will include television, radio and internet news alongside the press. The third will be a large survey of local people, looking at their news consumption habits. Lastly she will carry out focus groups and interviews.
This has been a beneficial and collaborative working relationship that has supported the development of Port Talbot Magnet. Six months on — where are we now? The six months since our launch have proved that we made the right decision when we launched the website. Traffic to our website has been encouraging, with sustained growth over the six months since we began monitoring. See Appendix D for a more detailed report. Now that we have something tangible to show for our efforts, we have received renewed support from NSA in the form of a bigger office, we are gaining readers and advertising, and are hopeful of renewing our quest for funding.
This is all positive. But we should not forget that we exist because of the goodwill of committed volunteers. Without funding we have run the service so far with volunteers, partnerships with other organisations and cash donations, mainly from the directors. We have sold a limited amount of advertising, and some of our video footage has been sold to outside organisations; these are heartening commercial steps forward for us. But this is not yet a working business model, not sustainable in its current form, and we know it will be difficult to fulfil our ambitions to provide dedicated, hard news for Port Talbot without a serious injection of cash or a decent, steady income stream, or even better, both.
We realise that, in common with many other social enterprises and charities, we will need to be flexible and innovative in bringing in revenue from many different sources. We also have ambitions to ensure our coverage is the hard news readers expect from their local news provider. We want to cover courts, council meetings and call big business to account.
Achieving these ambitions will take resources, and we have been innovative in approaching the challenge. In September, we launched an appeal for the site, called Pitch-in!.
Our Pitch-in! But it goes a step further than this, by breaking down editorial objectives into micro-targets and offering people the chance to sponsor journalists or pitch in time or money towards a story they are interested in seeing a journalist write. You can therefore, for example, sponsor a court reporter for a day on our website, or help us set up a new sports results service for the local football league.
The appeal also asks freelance journalists and members of the co-operative to suggest stories that can be made into a target on the site, and which we can then help raise money for.Material 5. I set out three main areas of enquiry: First, how had local news production and the news itself changed over the last four decades? There are, of course, possible problems with this kind of model. The future Is this the future of journalism? In the event that the party wall or fence has been jointly maintained or has not been maintained by either party it may be possibly regarded as party i.
Anyone referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service CAMHS should have their first appointment within 16 weeks, but a Freedom of Information request has uncovered most young people are waiting an average of 34 weeks to be seen. Gwenan Roberts is head of corporate services for Cwm Taf. Starting a co-operative seemed an obvious move, and the seven of us, with the excellent, and very practical help of the Wales Co-operative Centre, established a limited company. Leafy fences DOWN 1.
And in an era when information is available online and in other media, is there even any difference at all? Another big milestone has also been paying journalists for their skills, which we have started to do in the last few months. In September, we launched an appeal for the site, called Pitch-in!.
The appeal also asks freelance journalists and members of the co-operative to suggest stories that can be made into a target on the site, and which we can then help raise money for. Marsupials Not long afterwards, we received a huge boost for our project, by being invited to become a community partner of the National Theatre Wales production, The Passion, starring Michael Sheen. We had a social worker, and we were told about all the services and help we could get.
It was established in by a group of professional journalists in response to the general downturn in South Welsh media as well as, more specifically, the October closure of the Port Talbot Guardian, a weekly newspaper owned by Trinity Mirror. By these measures, I found the quality of coverage decreased — over time, stories were less local, journalists less likely to attend meetings and more likely to use press releases, and I also found that higher status sources were more likely to be quoted than low status members of the public see Graphs A and B.
By the end of , we were incorporated, had a memorandum of articles and a mission statement. The third will be a large survey of local people, looking at their news consumption habits. The Mini Burn is a 3km flat run, a 1km kayak, a 10km mountain bike trail, finishing with climbing and sack lining. Your legal questions answered 9th White Noize, live music, G6 Club. Our project, Port Talbot Magnet, is the other. Book a space by contacting the museum on or email info south-wales-minersmuseum.