Manchester Confidential, the online news, what's on and entertainment website for the city, is going paid for and planning to introduce a subscription model this weekend.
Angie Sammons, editor of sister-website Liverpool Confidential, told an NUJ conference on "New Ways to Make Journalism Pay" on Saturday that putting up a paywall and getting revenue from subscribers meant that Manchester Confidential would be more able to report without "fear or favour" rather than being wholly dependent on advertisers.
A former regional journalist, Sammons told the conference, organised by the NUJ London Freelance Branch, that: "Local newspapers have destroyed it for themselves because of their reliance on PRs." She also claimed that because regional titles had "got rid of everyone over 40" there were no longer mentors for young journalists.
"There are still as many journalists as there ever were," she said. "It's just that they work in PR." Manchester Confidential was established in 2004 by publisher Mark Garner. It made national news in January when it published a column by Graham Stringer, Labour MP for Manchester Blackley, in which he described dyslexia as "a cruel fiction". The column was followed up by, among others, the BBC, Sky and Reuters.
Subscriptions for Manchester Confidential range from £30 to £60 a year. Sammons said there was no plans to introduce a paywall at Liverpool Confidential yet. There is a third site in Leeds, called Leeds Confidential.
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