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Former Daily Post editor launches hyperlocal website in ‘news gap’ of West Kirby

By Dominic Ponsford

Former North Wales Daily Post editor Mark Thomas has teamed up with former Press Association journalist Emma Gunby to launch a hyperlocal website in West Kirby, Merseyside.

The pair (pictured above) are licensing a website model set up by Manchester-based freelance David Prior when he set up Altrincham Today in 2014.

Both the West Kirby and Altrincham news sites fill in gaps where there is currently no dedicated local news provider.

West Kirby Today is mobile-first and makes its money from a combination of display advertising, listings and native advertising content.

Thomas said: "The Hyperlocal Today format looks great and is simple for journalists to operate, and Emma and I have been delighted by the level of response and engagement we are getting from the local community.

"The feedback has been really encouraging, and I have been taken by surprise by how much fun I'm having with it. Emma is winning our personal page impressions duel… but in my own defence it's been a long time since they've let me near a news story."

Prior said that Altrincham Today now attracts some 80,000 unique browsers per month. The only other news coverage in the town is Newsquest’s free Sale and Altrincham Messenger which has one reporter.

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He believes there are opportunities for other journalists around the country to fill in the void left by cutbacks at big regional newspaper publishers by launching similar sites.

He said: "The concept definitely seems to have struck a chord – we've had numerous expressions of interest from as far afield as Australia, and it's absolutely fantastic to have such quality journalists involved at such an early stage.

"We're trying to combine old-fashioned, heart-of-the-community local journalism with a method of delivery that fits with the way most people now consume news – via their smartphone and channels like Facebook.

"The level of engagement each site has with its readers is hugely encouraging and it's clear that advertisers are also beginning to recognise the benefits of reaching a hyperlocal, online audience."

He said the model is aimed at journalists who have at least ten hours spare a week to devote to it.

Prior can be contacted via email: david@hyperlocaltoday.co.uk.

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