Friday, 6 May 2011

Is it really all over for Guardian beatbloggers?

The Guardian's decision to wind up its Guardian Local experiment with beatbloggers in Cardiff, Leeds and Edinburgh, may not be the end of the story, according to a post on TheMediaBriefing by regional journalist Ed Oldfield.

The Guardian said that despite attracting strong support for the local websites the project was financially “unsustainable”. One estimate was that the sites brought in only £500 a year in local ads.

But Oldfield writes that in Leeds: "It may just turn out that the Guardian’s failed experiment has acted as a catalyst for a new sustainable site to emerge from its own audience."

He tells how Leeds-based web and mobile product strategist Matt Edgar, a former newspaper journalist, has set up a fundraising appeal for 35 people to match his pledge of £23.32 a month – the cost of a Guardian newspaper subscription – towards running a similar community news site.

Oldfield adds: "By Wednesday, May 4, 10 people had signed up ahead of the May 31 deadline... the pledges would provide annual funding of just over £10,000, and a core group of supporters, with the aim of adding more revenue with a mixture of micro-payments, advertising, sponsorships or other models."

He concludes: "It seems that the Guardian’s experiment, while failing to find a viable commercial model, has whetted the city’s appetite for an alternative to the traditional local media offerings."

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