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May 26, 2015

Community-run Salford Star relaunches in print three months after closure of town’s weekly newspaper

By Dominic Ponsford

A volunteer-run quarterly newspaper with a focus on investigative journalism has launched in Salford three months after the closure of the town’s weekly newspaper.

The Salford Star was previously published as a quarterly magazine but has been web-only since the autumn of 2008.

In February Trinity Mirror closed free weekly the Salford Advertiser and replaced it with a local edition of new title, the Manchester Weekly News.

The Salford Star print edition has been relaunched with the help of donations from readers and a volunteer editorial workforce.

The new print edition has a circulation of 20,000 and funding is in place for a further edition in September. The hope is that advertising will then pay for further print editions.

The relaunched print edition includes features on “secrecy and hypocrisy” around a £100m property development, details of a £19m "planning scandal" and a feature on a local man who spent 35 years in prison for a murder he says he did not commit.

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It also includes a cheeky “Magic Mayor Healing Doll” which it invites readers to cut out and stick on their wall. In a four-page feature, the Star details various controversies mayor Ian Stewart has been involved with and invites readers to stick pins in various points on the mayor cutout as part of a psychic acupuncture exercise which it says will “open his heart” and fill it with “peaceful energy and love for all life forms”.

The cover feature is an interview with Salford-born actor Christopher Ecclestone.

Editor Stephen Kingston said: "The local press should be about challenging authority and holding them to account, that’s what we are doing. We are going back to the basics of the journalism.”

Asked why he had chosen to relaunch the title in print, rather just continuing with the website, he said: “The digital divide in Salford is as big as the wealth divide. A lot of people don’t have access to desktop computers. You are not going to read a 2,000-word article on a smartphone.

“People also prefer the hard copy: they can show it to people, it’s more one to one. You are never going to read a 4,000-word article on a website, it means we can go into more detail.”

He said: “Every day that the Salford Star has been online, we’ve dreamed of getting the magazine back into print, and that day has come… The Star is needed now more than ever, with the local Salford Advertiser closing down. It’s vital that people have a voice and the information to challenge authority. It’s about democracy and accountability.”

Read a digital version of the relaunch Salford Star print edition here.

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