Meeting school head teachers, talking to worried mums about prescription errors, covering breaking news and issues at council and looking at how housing allowance can lock families out of suitable housing are just some of the things explored by The Isle of Thanet News in the last month.
But how does it work? What is life really like at an independent news publisher?
At The Isle of Thanet News there are many aspects which are similar to newsrooms big and small across the country – emails roll in with press releases and queries, phone calls can bring anything from a sports update to tragic news, there are council meetings and, in the case of the printed paper, deadlines to meet,
But as an independent publisher there are many differences. We are local – I work from my home in Ramsgate (sometimes in my pyjamas with my rather overweight dog lying precariously close to my chair). For the printed newspaper I work with my business partner Jodie who is based in Margate. This means we know the issues affecting Thanet because they affect us too. We know where places are and who people are because this is our home. And the people we speak to matter to us because they are our neighbours and our community.
There isn’t a bank of staff or numerous departments with HR and payroll people. I am self-employed running a small business like many other people on our wonderfully creative isle. That means doing the dreaded books for my accounts (like many I let the months stack up and then tackle a marathon challenge instead of sensibly doing it each week) and dealing with any issue, from an advertising query to a problem on the website server to a promise to hand deliver a paper.
We have brilliant isle photographers who help us with pictures as well as fantastic readers who send photos, let us know what is happening in their street and, sometimes, nicely point out that we have made a typo or two! I’m easy to reach, people can call or email but they can just as easily message or tag me on facebook pretty much any time of the day or night – something you won’t generally find with ‘traditional’ news media editors.
There are not desks filled with reporters. I research, interview and write almost everything for The Isle of Thanet News website whether I am at my desk, in the car or, sometimes, in the middle of a camping field in Birchington.
For the printed paper this is shared with Jodie, who also contributes to the website. We are both qualified journos who have spent years working for bigger publishers so what you get is done professionally and properly but it means a very small team. For example the printed newspaper has two writers and two designers/subbing editors working to create something that you, as readers, will enjoy.
There are also some great columnists who send in their articles and others who give a helping hand every now and then.
As an independent business I am the reporter but also the advertising contact, the accountant, the website manager – although I now have help for this – the finance department, the delivery organiser and the general dogsbody. It is not that unusual to be writing someone’s story whilst answering an email about an advert and zipping around the house with the hoover all at once!
But one thing is consistent – Thanet news. In the last couple of weeks I have sat in the home of a mum who had to battle to bring the case to court after her son was killed in a road accident, I’ve been to a wave of light to remember little ones lost during pregnancy or in childhood, I’ve walked up to the Winterstoke to see the new chat benches and met people from an Acol author to a lovely Ramsgate funeral director and the Thanet Winter Shelter boss.
I’ve attended council meetings, yawned at the boring bits and scribbled my way through the interesting developments, have read piles of documents about errant landowners and homelessness data and fallen out of bed early as my messenger alerts pinged away following a rather nasty incident.
There’s also been an offer of food from the Margate Curry Club (food is always welcome!!) and the odd pint at Spoons in Ramsgate so I could ‘just check they have enough papers!’
Keeping the wheels turning to deliver your Thanet news
On the serious side we work tirelessly (seven days a week, yikes!!) to bring relevant / up-to-the-minute news to the Isle, and we depend on advertising revenue and community support to keep the wheels turning.
As a trusted community platform, we can increase leads and brand awareness for businesses through our 620,000 website views per month, and a very high engagement Facebook page with 12,000 followers.
Our paper has a 6,000 print run – due to rise to 10,000 – and has been a hit with readers so far.
We’ve been getting results for many well-known local businesses and value the mutally supportive relationships we have. If you’d like to know more about how we can help your business advertise, please feel free to drop me a line via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or a call at: 07757771459.
We’re happy to talk shop anytime.
If you are not a business but would still like to support your free local news website and paper we have a ‘buy us a coffee’ link here a paypal donation link here or use the go cardless link on our homepage.