Here at S&C, we are very proud of all we’ve achieved since we launched in February 2015. We began life as a fiercely independent online magazine, publishing a wide range of professional and aspiring writers from Portsmouth and beyond, every two months or so. From the beginning, our main aim was to provide an alternative to mainstream online local news, which is often saturated in advertising, dominated by press releases and lacking in critical insight or commentary.
Over the last 20 months, we’ve done exactly that. We published our first issue as a team of two volunteers working with 40 local writers. Since then, we’ve grown our team and our contributor base into an internationally recognised ‘virtual newsroom’ publishing at least three original pieces each week, and we’ve become Portsmouth’s only non-commercial platform for investigative news, slow reporting, satire and political commentary, as well as a stage on which the city’s creative writers showcase their work.
Some of our proudest achievements include:
- Breaking Smeargate on S&C, a story which was picked up by The Guardian, The Mirror and of course, The Morning Star
- Working in partnership with national and local organisations and campaigners on a successful online and real world campaign to overturn planned cuts to local domestic violence services
- Publishing regular exclusive content not found in the mainstream local media, including investigations, long form interviews with residents and organisations, and a diversity of critical reporting holding power to account.
- Working with local groups to publish first-hand accounts on a wide range of social issues, including substance abuse and recovery, homelessness and mental health
- Publishing voices from across the political spectrum, including voices from Portsmouth’s Conservatives, Labour, UKIP, and the Liberal Democrats
- Providing a platform for local writers via our Portsmouth Writers’ Season and STAR POems series, edited by the award-winning Portsmouth poet Maggie Sawkins
- Being one of only ten hyperlocals to be selected to take part in national charity Nesta’s Audience Research project with Kathryn Geels
- Talking to journalists in Sweden about our virtual newsroom, working with Dhyaan Design’s Abhay Adhikari and Matt Cooke, from GoogleNews
Most of all, we are exceptionally proud of working with all of you: our readers, local activists, community groups, residents and our regular writers and contributors. Together, in under two years, we have published over 400 articles from well over 100 writers from Portsmouth and beyond.
But in 2017, we want to do even more and to do that, we’re going to be focusing on recruiting more people to the Star & Crescent team, developing funding to support what we do, exploring the development of a membership model, and creating a real world base for S&C in Pompey to run alongside our virtual newsroom of writers and editors.
All of this takes time and sadly, we can’t work on this and continue to deliver news and views to you 5 days a week. So, over the coming weeks, we will be publishing less on the website and on social media.
We think that like us, our readers value quality over quantity, so don’t worry, we’re not going to leave you high and dry.
We’re going back to our roots to focus on investigative reporting, slow journalism and satire, and on our values of representing marginalised and hidden voices, and holding power to account. This kind of journalism takes time, and writers from all over Portsmouth are already working on a range of new reports that will be coming to you over the coming weeks. We will be publishing articles from our virtual newsroom and keeping you in touch with our progress here and on social media.
Star & Crescent was started by two people, but we have only been able to continue with the help of local writers, readers, businesses and organisations who have chosen to support us.
If you want to join those people, and be a part of our continuing mission to #ReclaimTheNews in 2017, there are a number of ways to get involved:
- Register your interest in joining our core team of regular volunteers. In 2017, we will be looking for content managers, social media managers, graphic designers, and web developers, along with many other roles. If you’re interested in joining a young and growing movement of media professionals who want to #ReclaimTheNews, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you don’t feel like you have the skill or time commitment we’re looking for in our regular team, but you’re interested in a volunteer placement where you can learn about writing and about the media in a vibrant and exciting independent news organisation, get in touch with us to register your interest in our upcoming newsroom projects at email@example.com
- Help us to expand our work by donating as a one off or regular donor
- Write for us – send us your ideas and submissions, or sign up to join our virtual newsroom of regular reporters, investigators and writers and we’ll supply you with the stories. Or show us your creative skills and send in your short stories, memoir and poetry
- Spread the word! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
In the meantime, thanks for all your support, as readers, contributors, volunteers and donors and like Portsmouth herself, we look forward to being bigger, bolder and better in 2017.