In December 2018, following several discussions online and with people involved in the media landscape of Wales I set about preparing a plan with a view of setting up a new national digital news service for Wales. A service that could challenge the dominant incumbents who provide news from a UK perspective, The likes of the Daily Mail and The Sun.
I set up a crowdfunding page with a view of raising £2,000 which would enable me to investigate the possibilities and develop a business plan. The response was phenomenal, and I ended up raising £5,500. This allowed me to dedicate a good chunk of time researching the market and developing a detailed business plan.
The conclusion, following several discussions with news startups in the UK and across Europe, was clear. As the former head of digital at S4C, a post I held for 4 years between 2012 and 2016, I had direct experience of how a national media service operated. Creating a news website, with the bandwidth to create the required reach and impact, with relevant social channels would require a six-figure investment and annual running costs in the same region.
My discussions with Berria, the national Basque language news service and with the publishers of The National in Scotland made one thing clear, the need to develop a print product alongside the digital offer. A physical product on a newsstand alongside The Daily Mail and The Sun is vital for the service across all platforms to have an impact, and contrary to popular belief, despite the decrease in print sales over recent years print remains a viable commercial proposition from both a sales and advertising perspective. But it is its value as a marketing tool that cannot be underestimated.
The development plans were put on hold in 2019 when I suffered major complications following routine hernia surgery but by the end of the year discussions with potential media partners commenced.
In May 2020 I launched a Patreon funding page in order to start raising the required funds and allow for the continued discussions to get the title off the ground.
On Monday the 1st of March 2021 the long hours, the personal attacks, will all have been worth it when The National Wales launches. A national news service for Wales in print and digital.
So what of me now?
As has been clear throughout my role was to make a national news service for Wales, one that discusses news, current affairs, business and economy, arts and culture and the environment and current affairs from a Welsh perspective a reality. I have fulfilled that part. I will have no editorial input, (an independent editorial board representing Wales in 2021 is being assembled) I won’t be running it, my role now will be to support the 50+ team of new and existing Newsquest journalists in Wales create video content that can turn deliver their stories succinctly and with impact.
I will also be responsible for arranging and creating the exclusive supporter content for current and future Patreon supporters. Video interviews, weekly podcasts, regular discussions and debates. Content that has the potential of leading the news agenda in Wales, whilst helping people gain a better understanding of the Welsh political landscape.
All supporter funding will be spent on creating that content, the more supporters we attract the more we will be able to produce, on more platforms. Our ambitions are high, we want to create a Welsh alternative to Radio 4, TalkRadio, 5live and LBC and bring video discussions and debates to as wide an audience as possible.
The service launches on Monday the 1st of March, its success put simply, will depend on two things.
- The quality of its content
- The support of the public through subscriptions.
So it’s now up to The National Wales and you.