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March 13, 2019updated 14 Mar 2019 10:05am

Left Foot Forward hits £10,000 fundraiser target weeks after closure warning

By James Walker

Left Foot Forward has reached its £10,000 fundraising target three weeks after its editor warned that the political news website would have to shut down if it failed to raise the sum.

A total of 237 supporters donated £10,056 to the fund, which closed shortly before 2pm this afternoon, according to the website’s crowdfunding page.

Left Foot Forward is run by two part-time editorial staff, including editor Josiah Mortimer (pictured), who was given a lobby pass a year ago today.

Speaking to Press Gazette, Mortimer said the website would net more than £20,000 before fees after Betterworld, a company run by former Green & Blacks Chocolate chairman Henry Tinsley, pledged to match donations.

The Independent reported in 2016 that Tinsley had made a donation to the centrist “Labour Tomorrow” group and previously handed cash to Lib Dem and Labour candidates in some Conservative seats.

Mortimer said the offer from Tinsley was “no strings attached”, adding: “He just wanted to keep Left Foot Forward alive, really.”

Asked what the website would do with the £20,000 fund, Mortimer said: “It’s a tricky situation in that this is really about keeping Left Foot Forward alive and thriving and that means covering our core costs.

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“What we really want to do with our next fundraising is to ask what would a bigger, better, radical media look like and really step it up a gear to that.”

He added that “step two” for Left Foot Forward, should it receive more donations, would include paying for regular contributors on specialist topics, polling around issues not picked up by other titles and refreshing its website. But he ruled out putting content behind a paywall.

Mortimer said he expected the £20,000 fund to keep the website going while the team looked for a source of sustainable revenue.

He said: “We run on an absolute shoe-string… we don’t have offices we just try and cover our core costs. Touch wood, it should last three quarters of the year while we find sustainable funding.

“That’s the real priority now. We’ve got this really strong buffer and now we need to make that sustainable.”

Mortimer added that the website would ideally “massively ramp-up our reader contributions and have a stable funding base through that”, but was open-minded about a media or campaigning organisation getting involved.

He told Press Gazette in February that more than 1,200 people have contributed to the website – including former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas – since it was founded by Will Straw (son of former home secretary Jack Straw) more than ten years ago.

Media co-operative Political Pixel was once Left Foot Forward’s main source of money, but is no longer putting cash into the website.

When the website’s crowdfund was launched, Mortimer told Left Foot Forward readers: “I have to be blunt. If we don’t raise £10,000, we won’t be able to keep going. But if we all chip in today, we can safeguard and ramp up our hard-hitting, progressive journalism.”

Picture: Left Foot Forward

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