A National News Service for Wales

Update March 26th 2020

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The current coronavirus pandemic has made the need for a fully functioning news and media clearer than ever, both as mediums of communicating information to the public and delivering an appropriate measure of scrutiny from those in charge of policy and public health matters.

The scale of this pandemic cannot be underestimated, people are becoming unwell and in some deeply saddening cases ending in death. The economic impact is immense and the recent announcements restricting the movements of the public combined with the shut down and hibernation of huge sections of the economy is having a huge impact on news outlets, especially here in Wales. Gaining access to physical newspapers will become increasingly difficult as the days go by, businesses will, understandably, withdraw from advertising their services an wares. All this at a time when people are becoming increasingly reliant on and expecting more from the news and information services provided by the industry. This current crisis is a genuine threat to an already precarious news industry.

What has also become clear is the confusion with regards devolved matters. The national UK media, so dominant in Wales, pays scant regard to devolution. Health is devolved to Wales, Matt Hancock is the health minister in England only, Vaughan Gething is the health minister in Wales, yet if you listened to national radio stations, watched national TV news, read the national press both digitally and in print you wouldn’t be aware of it.

Whatever the end result of the pandemic, and we all pray it passes with as little loss of life as possible, we will be living in a very different Wales and the need for an independent national media service will be greater than ever.

In May 2021 Wales will be electing a new legislature and government, a government charged with rebuilding a new post coronavirus Wales. We want to be at the forefront in helping the people of Wales make those critical decisions, asking the questions on their behalf, giving people an opportunity to hear from those who seek their votes.

We want to do this in a new way. We know people are increasingly using social media and the digital world to receive the news and information that influence and shape their thoughts and views. We also know that people, and their families, value print based products so we will be providing both a print and expansive digital service which will include an extensive array of video and audio services.

Nobody currently knows how and when the economy will return to normality. We know that launching this service at the scale we are proposing will require a substantial level of investment and long term support whilst we build commercial revenues.

By working with key logistical partners who are experts in the delivery of news services, on a global level, we will be able to develop and deploy the service rapidly.

Timescales

We will launch our daily digital service and a special print edition in September to coincide with the new school year. A second Christmas print edition will be published in December with the launch of a weekly print edition in January for five months. Publishing a print edition every Saturday from the 9th of January until the 29th of May. During the week of Senedd election we will be publishing daily from Monday the 3rd of May through to the Saturday edition on the 8th of May with a comprehensive results and analysis edition.

Our business model has to be different, we know from existing models and the direction of travel for the news industry that trying to operate as traditional media business. We have met With Media start ups both here in the UK and Europe and element of public support in the form of subscription and investment in the form of start up capital will be essential. As the business develops we will be able to develop new revenue streams and we are confident our service will generate sufficient long term commercial revenues in order to sustain a sustainable business. 

We need to find 5,000 people who are willing to support our pilot phase for 5 months at £5 a month, that’s £25 to make this a reality.

Does your business see the benefits that an enhanced Welsh media landscape could bring along with new opportunities to connect with new customers? We’d love to have a conversation with you regarding sponsorship and advertising opportunities. 

We’re not asking for a penny from you now, what we do need now is to be able to collect as many commitments as possible as quickly as possible.

We appreciate this is a really difficult time for everyone, but we know the independent national service we are building will help Wales prosper once this crisis is overcome.

You can register your interest here.

Your investment has enabled the development of a business plan that is far more ambitious and that will deliver a far more extensive service than originally envisaged. This won’t be a website posting opinion pieces, it will be a fully functioning, fully staffed national news operation for Wales delivering a regular print product, news and information content via social media channels and to your mobile phone, all backed up by a comprehensive website. We will innovate in the use of video and audio, creating accessible content relevant to the audience and the platform. 

By holding leaders to account we will create the news and lead the news agenda in Wales. We will give our audience a platform that will allow them to question, challenge and where appropriate congratulate our legislators for their actions.

I cannot reveal at the moment, for commercial reasons, who the partners I am currently working with to make this a reality, but I can assure you that you will be more than pleasantly surprised when the details are made public.

We, myself and the partners, are in discussions with potential funders and investors in order to have the money in place in order to launch, what is vital now is to get the 5,000 signed up as soon as possible.

Can I please ask you all to use your networks, big or small, to help us reach this goal. The long term success of this project will be reliant on growing a community who believe and trust in what we are building.

As previously stated we aim, provisionally, to launch the service in September when, hopefully, we will be returning to some sort of normality.

One thing that’s certain is the Wales post coronavirus will be a much different one to the one that existed only a few weeks ago. The need for the service we aim to provide will never have been so important.

Diolch

Huw

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