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January 2, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 8:45am

Local news website apes Guardian with call for reader donations on tenth anniversary

By Freddy Mayhew

A local news website has taken a leaf out of the Guardian’s book and is appealing to readers for donations as it marks ten years online.

Brighton and Hove News is free to read, supporting itself with advertising, sponsored content and selling stories to other publishers.

“As yet, though, all this is not enough,” said editor Frank Le Duc.

Le Duc, who helped launch the News in 2009, said staff supplemented their incomes with a “modest amount” of freelance work but wanted to earn enough to give the website their full attention.

To that end it has asked for support directly from readers, much like the Guardian whose former owner and editor Charles Scott went to school in Brighton and Hove.

The News lists six editorial staff on its website, three of whom are full-time, including a BBC-funded local democracy reporter.

Le Duc said the news website breaks even “at the cost of not paying ourselves as much as we would like”.

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He added: “Some describe websites like ours as “hyperlocal”. The term, to me, seems to diminish what we do. In covering a city of almost 300,000 people, we do the things that were traditionally done by a local newspaper.

“We report from the courts, the council chamber and the health trusts. We cover crime, education and transport. We attend inquests, planning inquiries and all manner of other events, including local and general election hustings and counts.

“For 10 years we have covered our local football team, Brighton and Hove Albion, now playing in the Premier League. And we probably publish more previews and reviews of the arts – gigs, concerts and stage shows – than any of our rivals.

“We also provide a platform for comment and a forum for debate. We try to report and reflect and chronicle what is important in and to our community.

“Some of it matters most to a small section of that community. Some of it has been headline news not just in Brighton but around the world. But predominantly our journalism is about the public interest.”

The Guardian announced earlier this year that it had broken even after a three-year strategy to turn its finances around.

Donations can be made directly to Brighton and Hove News through its website.

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