The Focus, a new non-profit news website that gives furloughed journalists from across all media outlets a space to publish stories, will officially launch next Monday.
Its main aim is to support the mental well-being of out-of-work staffers who may find themselves with nothing to do, stuck inside their homes during the coronavirus lockdown.
"It’s all about the release that writing an article brings," says Vic Daniels, co-founder and executive chairman of GRV Media, who launched The Focus.
"It’s about the process of writing. It’s the medicine to help keep these people going."
The website pledges to give all the proceedings from advertising to a mental health charity which is yet to be confirmed. With its wide editorial scope, spanning from culture to sport to politics, it allows journalists to cover non-commercial stories that maybe they have been sitting on for a long time.
All journalists and editors contribute to the project as volunteers and go through a selection process to ensure high editorial standards. No time commitment is required - everyone volunteers when and how they can.
The Focus is supported by Journalism.co.uk; UK independent news aggregator News Now; local publisher JPI Media; content discovery platform Taboola; and GRV Media that absorbs all the costs associated with running the website.
Supporting furloughed staff is a topic close to home for Daniels. GRV Media, a small publisher that covers mainly reality TV content, entertainment and gaming, had to furlough some of its staffers working on football reporting as matches got cancelled. However, while the government pledges to pay 80 per cent of their salaries under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, GRV Media adds the remaining 20 per cent to ensure its staffers receive full pay for the time they cannot work.
With The Focus being established in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, Daniels has not made any plans for the future just yet. Many ideas are in the pipeline, for example, allowing universities to use the websites for a small number of students whose summer internships got cancelled as a result of the pandemic. Another idea is to create a section for up-and-coming journalists who will struggle to break into the disrupted media industry, and perhaps having a video section that would also offer a creative outlet for furloughed broadcast journalists.
"We take it one month at a time," says Daniels.
"The idea is to keep going and bring everyone back after the crisis."
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