After working for some of the biggest UK women’s weekly magazines and newspapers for years, freelance journalist Punteha van Terheyden decided to launch her own digital platform, Lacuna Voices, to publish important real-life stories that often do not make it to the mainstream media.
"As a freelancer I had some great stories but I couldn’t get them published," said van Terheyden. For example, she interviewed a man who was going through an acrimonious divorce and a mental breakdown. Despite pitching the story to several publications, no one wanted to run it because editors assumed that 'man getting divorced' is not going to be an appealing enough story for the audience.
Van Terheyden also wants to change the way freelancers are treated. She plans to pay them upon submission of the copy and not publication.
"Freelancers are going to be paid in line what nationals pay at the moment, ranging from £40 to £150 or more per article, depending on the story," she said. In the future, as she expects her commissioning budget to go up, she plans to drive freelancer fees up rather than down.
For now, van Terheyden finances the project with her own money but is also looking at securing corporate sponsorship. Syndicating content and images to nationals could be another source of revenue, which can also help raise awareness about Lacuna Voices. Any potential advertiser will have to align with the brand ethos.
"I don’t want a paywall," she said about her revenue strategy. "I understand why paywalls exist but I don’t want to keep people out."
Van Terheyden preparing the launch of her project in her free time. She writes stories, designs the webpage, and has even enlisted some of her trusted freelance friends to provide feedback and advice.
Set to launch in January 2020, the publication is planning to feature five to ten articles a week and van Terheyden already has around 60 features stacked up to start with. The articles will be available on the Lacuna Voices website and also across the social media.
Sections should include ‘featured voices’ that will see stories of celebrities, expert voices but also ordinary people. Other sections will bring stories about health, mental well-being, career and parenting. There should also be a space dedicated to men who are still largely ignored by the magazines, despite reading content traditionally aimed at female audience.
"This has started as a passion project from my heart so I can only hope it will grow," van Terheyden said. "So far people are excited about it."
Lacuna Voices is joining a saturated market, where established brands like the HuffPost UK have recently launched similar projects.
"I just want a publication that enables the people who are underrepresented in the media to have a platform for their voice," she said. "We are not pandering to advertisers, the purpose is not to generate revenue. It is to enable people to get heard."
If you have a story you would like to share with Lacuna Voices, get in touch via social media.
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