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Second wave of local newsletter launches from The Lead in North of England

Seven media outlets created so far in The Lead's drive to cover local Northern news.

By Clara Aberneithie

Left-leaning online magazine The Lead is beginning its second wave of new local newsletters and newspapers as it seeks to build a “Northern newsroom”.

It is launching email newsletters, with print editions to follow, in three areas of the North West: Hyndburn, Altrincham and Sale, and Warrington.

The Lead, which first launched in autumn 2022, first began the newsletter project in December with the announcement of plans for ten local weekly newsletters in the North of England.

The first four to launch were in Blackpool, Bolton, Teesside and Stoke-on-Trent and the aim is to reach 200,000 free newspapers distributed across the titles this year.

Ex-Reach audience and content director Ed Walker, who is Lead editor (North), said: “We’ve seen a strong response to our in-depth features and news exploring issues in all the places we’ve launched in so far.

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“In Hyndburn, Warrington and Altrincham and Sale we have proud places, people and towns which have lots of stories waiting to be told.

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“Through partnering with existing publications it’s important to recognise the good local journalism already going on and ensure as The Lead we’re working to complement that.”

Walker is leading the Northern hub with a fellow ex-Reach colleague, former Lancs Live and Curiously editor Luke Beardsworth as senior editor (north).

Its creation and expansion are funded by Mike Harris, The Lead’s owner who also owns advocacy-oriented communications firm 89up.

Harris, a former head of advocacy at Index on Censorship, committed a six-figure sum in 2023 and recommitted in 2024 with a further six figures.

The Altrincham & Sale Lead will work alongside hyperlocal title Altrincham Today, which publishes a quarterly print magazine and gets more than one million online users per year.

David Prior, publisher of Altrincham Today, said: “The past decade has hardly been a period of growth for the local news industry, but The Lead’s issues-led long-read journalism is showing that when done well, there is no more important part of a functioning democracy.”

In Warrington the team will work closely with independent title Warrington Worldwide.

In Altrincham and Warrington the print products being produced by The Lead will be distributed with their established products.

The Hyndburn Lead will provide features and coverage of Accrington, Oswaldtwistle and Great Harwood areas.

George Francis Lee, an Oswaldtwistle-based journalist working on the project, said: “People from smaller northern towns have come to expect a level of disinterest from the media and typical local newspaper models are challenged. We can start to offer something new with The Hyndburn Lead.”

The Lead describes itself as “an issue-led start-up publication that focuses on pressing social topics facing the UK”. It has a left-of-centre lens on politics.

Its national newsletter is almost at 50,000 weekly subscribers and it has five full-time members of staff.

Natalie Morris, Lead senior editor (national), grew up in Altrincham and Sale. She said: “I’m incredibly proud to continue The Lead’s expansion into the North West, particularly in a place that is still home for me in many ways… It has been fascinating to witness the changes that have taken place in Altrincham over the last few decades.

“I’m excited to see the varied and nuanced stories that will emerge as we look to local journalists to dig below the surface to uncover the issues that really matter in this region.”

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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  • COO
  • CFO
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  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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