Work in Progress: 1st Feb



Work in Progress

News, thoughts and opinions about the world of local independent online media in the UK and beyond.

Philip John


Given this is only the second time I’ve sent out a newsletter you’ll be forgiven for wondering what the hell it is, so let me tell you. This is day one of a possibly weekday newsletter covering the goings on of local independent online news in the UK.

As with so many things I may get very bored of it very quickly when the dopamine hit subsides so this could be the only one. If it is, rest assured that rather than suffering a catastrophic injury or losing a fight with a bus my ADHD brain has simply said “no, not fun any more, go to bed and stare at the ceiling.”

Inspired by my morning podcast walk this newsletter will simply be a bit of a dump of things I’ve heard about, read about and/or discussed with fellow indie news types. While focused on the UK, because there isn’t that much coverage of what goes on here, I will be drawing from global sources that form my own media habit.

The Morning Walk Podcast

Most weekday mornings I try to go for a walk and listen to media podcasts. This is what I like to call my stupid fucking walk for my stupid fucking mental health. While it works – which I hate to admit – I can’t convince myself to walk without reason so I listen to a collection of media-related podcasts to and from my favourite cafe. In this section I share what I’ve learned or found interesting.

Today’s podcast episode was this interview on The Business of Content with Glabe Fleisher who, aged just 9 years old, started a politics newsletter with just a Gmail account. A decade on, Wake Up to Politics has 50,000 subscribers and sustains Gabe as he completes his schooling at Georgetown.

The first thing I loved about Gabe’s story is that it reminded me of when, aged about 10 or 11, I decided I would start a local newsletter for the village I grew up in. I planned it all out on stapled sheets of paper and would deliver it myself. Unfortunately I don’t think my parents were too keen on the inevitable print costs so it went nowhere!

But it did inspire me to start writing this very newsletter. I’ve been telling myself for months that I’d write a newsletter but keep putting it off. If a 9 year old can use a Gmail account to start a newsletter about their passion, why can’t I – with my experience of publishing on the web being longer than Gabe has even been alive – do it about my passion for local journalism? So here we are.

What’s Happening

As reported by Hold The Front Page this week, new local newsletters The Blackpool Lead and The Bolton Lead have gone live. Both are led by former Reach executive, Ed Walker, who I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for almost 15 years now following his launch of Blog Preston shortly before my own adopted child Lichfield Live began.

One of a swathe of newsletter-based operations that are springing up, The Lead promises “in-depth storytelling and campaigning journalism” for their communities. I’m really interested to see how these get on alongside similar projects from The Mill.

Good luck to Ed and the team!

On a personal note…

While my village newsletter never saw a letterbox I’m equal parts excited and terrified that in little over a month I’ll be swanning around in my fairly new electric car (yes I’m bragging and feeling smug that I’m not chucking out fumes when I travel) delivering the first edition of The Lichfield and Burntwood Independent – the printed newspaper project that has grown out of the now 15-year-old Lichfield Live.

Having committed to print the first four issues of the fortnightly publication regardless of whether or not we sell any ads, we’re delighted to have had many enquiries already along with messages of support. Our community hasn’t had a newspaper since the end of 2021 when the last of our three local papers shuttered for good, but plenty of folks have been screaming out for one.

Back in October I wrote that maybe print was the answer following my trip to Bristol for the PINF Forum where fellow publishers talked about print being the answer to sustainability for them. In the next few months we’ll find out if the same is true in Lichfield. Watch this space!

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Well done, you’ve reached the obligatory promotional part.

If you enjoyed this newsletter maybe send it on to someone else who might like it.

If you didn’t like this newsletter maybe still send it to someone who might like it.

If you hated it maybe unsubscribe, or continue reading but tut and shake your head at every sentence.

I suppose if you have feedback you can email me too.

Until next time…

Philip John avatar

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