tyne bridge

The Tyne Bridge in Newcastle

Credit: By yellow book on Flickr. Some Rights Reserved.

A new publication for local long-form journalism is to launch next week, after a successful round of crowdfunding from backers hoped to play a key role in the future editorial process.

The Northern Correspondent will focus on stories from the North East of England, initially with a 1,000-copy, 72-page print run followed by multimedia offerings and a website.

"We're conscious that, in the North East, we have good solid newspapers and good regional broadcasters in Tyne Tees and BBC Newcastle," Ian Wylie, an established journalist and a lecturer at Newcastle University, told Journalism.co.uk, "but like a lot of regionals they may not go far enough."

We're a population of 2.5 million people so there are many, many stories that are not being toldIan Wylie, The Northern Correspondent
'Lost', the story of a Newcastle filmmaker who died while sleeping rough for a documentary on homelessness, written by co-founder Chris Stokel-Walker, was published yesterday on Medium as a precursor to publication and as an example of the style and topics the Northern Correspondent seeks to cover.

While the original events were reported in local press, and discussed by nationals, Wylie feels it is important to give more time to issues which have local resonance and "connect the dots" of the broader implications around a story.

"There's an issue that someone has come to me with regarding the social care field," he said. "I know if he had come to me with that story and I was sat at a daily I would have thought 'I don't know if I can do it because it's very complex. I would have to go off diary for a week to do it.

"Whereas with this [the Northern Correspondent], we can connect the dots that I don't think a regional or a local or a broadcaster has the time, resources or inclination to do."

Other stories to be included in the first issue include the demise of joyriding culture in the region, and where the drivers are now, an investigation into local pigeon racing and conversations with Tina Gharani, an Iranian-born filmmaker based in the North East whose film about teenage Iranian refugees in the region was nominated for a BAFTA.

"We're a population of 2.5 million people so there are many, many stories that are not being told," Wylie continued. "The excitement is if we have 50 people coming to our next editorial meeting then we'll start to hear some of the stories that people believe aren't being told and need to be told."

Collaboration with the readership is central to the future of the publication, in a similar manner to the recently launched Contributoria, he said.

Just because we started life as a magazine doesn't mean you can't then morph into something else and then come back againIan Wylie, The Northern Correspondent
One of the pledge rewards on the Kickstarter campaign, which finishes on Tuesday, invited backers to have a say in the editorial process of the second issue, and Wylie believes such cooperation is key to keeping readers engaged.

"They're investors who have a say in the project so you have to listen to them and you have to be willing to be guided by them," he said. "But that's exciting. It's far better than half a dozen of us sitting around trying to dream up ideas that we think people will want to read."

Another hyperlocal news organisation with a strong ethic of local co-operation is The Bristol Cable, set to launch in July, working with and training local readers to be a part of the process. While Wylie values the input and opinion of the audience, the writing will be left to freelancers and the founding journalists.

Once the first edition has been distributed to backers, remaining copies will be sold in "newsagents, art galleries, booksellers and cultural venues", before introducing a website. Between print issues, features will be regularly published online with a strong visual style, similar to Medium, and experiments in multimedia storytelling.

"It's trying to decide what is the best way of telling some of these stories," he said. "Sometimes it will be print and sometimes it will be filmed. That excites me because we live in a world of challenges but also possibilities.

"Just because we started life as a magazine doesn't mean you can't then morph into something else and then come back again. Everything is more fluid and flexible than it was in previous eras."

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