Regular readers might have noticed that the pages of S&C and our social media feeds have been unusually quiet recently. So, where did we go and what are we up to next? Paris Ali-Pilling and Sarah Cheverton report.
As a team made up primarily of volunteers, S&C was hit hard during the pandemic. We moved into remote working immediately, and sadly our student placement had to return to their home country as a result of Covid-19.
With only two of us left working on the site every day – not counting our amazing group of local writers and columnists – and a keen desire to support the city through the pandemic, we needed to find solutions quickly. We were fortunate to quickly secure funding from both the Public Interest News Foundation and the European Journalism Centre.
We used the funding to create Star & Crescent’s Covid-19 Portsmouth Project. We employed four local people on a freelance basis to report on the effects of Covid-19 in communities and sectors that were being disproportionately affected:
- the voluntary sector,
- small businesses,
- BAME communities,
- people with disabilities,
- refugees and asylum seekers.
All of our reporters had very close connections to, or were part of, the sector or group they were representing. Each one aimed to report on issues that are normally misrepresented or under-reported in the mainstream media. You can read all the stories from the project here.
When the funding came to an end late last year, we were faced with a new problem. To continue S&C’s work, we needed to make it sustainable. Our small team has worked almost exclusively for free since we began in 2015. This is no longer sustainable and now, to continue our work, we need to make sure our small team is paid and to explore ways to pay our regular contributors.
So we took time out this year to revisit how we work and how we want to continue in the future.
We’re now busy applying for funding for some new projects and are working closely with other independent local news publishers across the country to explore sustainable business models for us moving forward. At the same time, our Editor Sarah Cheverton is working on PhD research at the University of Portsmouth about the local news crisis and the sustainability of local news in the UK, and this will be her main focus until next year.
What does this all mean?
We won’t be going back to the way we were working before, as more of our time will be spent on exploring funding solutions.
We are accepting submissions, but our editorial team is smaller, so responding to you may take longer. We will be publishing on the site and sharing local information on social media still, but not as often as we were before.
We have big plans for S&C and with hard work, we believe we can deliver them.
Our mission has always been the same: to provide independent and reliable local news and views, written by and for the people of Portsmouth. We hope you stay with us while we work out the best way to do this.
S&C is a not for profit community organisation, managed and operated by a small team who work on a voluntary and freelance basis to run our website, social media and engage with local residents and communities. If you want to know more about us, click here.
If you want to find out more about the challenges facing local independent news: visit the #SaveIndependentNewscampaign website.
Write for us, and send your submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get involved as a volunteer! We are looking for people to help us move forward our plans as a not for profit, community organisation. If you have experience in any of the following areas, get in touch with us at email@example.com.
We are currently particularly interested in hearing from people with experience in: