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Independent news website SalfordOnline.com to close


It is with great sadness that I’m announcing SalfordOnline.com is to close down.

When we started the news website 10 years ago we could only dream that it would grow into Salford’s only daily newspaper with a fast, busy newsroom serving 35,000 *unique* readers a week.

There have been a lot of successes for us over the years.

Social media exploded for SalfordOnline.com once readers realised we’d be there for them seven days a week.

It became the de facto place for people in Salford to come and find out what’s really happening outside their door.

salfordonline-front-page

Our reach on Facebook and Twitter is immense given the size of our operation – what other independent local news website can boast a news-generating, volunteer-moderated Facebook group with nearly 20,000 members?

We worked all hours of the day or night to pull together news that was happening now, right outside your door.

That’s why when Paul Massey was killed, the equivalent of the whole City of Salford tried to hit the website in the space of 24 hours.

They knew we would have the news. First.

But in offering support to his family 12 months on, we had the edge over every other news outlet.

Because we had the Salford community at our heart.

We regularly scooped much larger papers and broadcasters with big breaking news stories.

Put that together with innovative history features, campaigns and more, and you can see why since the start of 2016, 2.8 million users have viewed 4.5 million pages on SalfordOnline.com.

Readers come to SalfordOnline from almost every country in the world - Google Analytics

Readers come to SalfordOnline from almost every country in the world – Google Analytics

A June 2015 redesign gave us what we hadn’t had before – an easy to read, modern website.

Our numbers began to spike again.

But SalfordOnline was about more than just news. It was about community. About the good things that people did.

Focusing on bright young people, fundraising and support for the most vulnerable, education, homeless appeals, charities and mental health, volunteering and the third sector and much more.

This we saw as our mission.

But SalfordOnline.com grew more quickly than the infrastructure that was available to support it.

In short – and unfortunately – we have not been able to match up sales with the quality of the news and editorial.

So as sole director and editor, it falls on me to make the tough but responsible decision.

I want to say an special thank you to our top-level volunteers, work placement students and up-and-coming journalists who have dedicated to us tens of thousands of hours in reporting, writing, photographing and social media management.

I can’t possibly list all the people here that I’d like to thank but to Tony Flynn, Dawne Sheldrick-Keating, Albert Spiby, Karl Davison and Chelsea Fisher I want to say that it’s been an honour working with you.

SalfordOnline.com will remain online as a resource for readers to dip back into the social history of the city – looking back not only to what we’ve produced over the past 10 years but also in a historical sense to see where Salford has come from, and where it is now.

In the words of Douglas Adams, so long, and thanks for all the fish.

Enquiries to: Tom Rodgers – 07966921194 (tomrodgersmedia@gmail.com)

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PRESS RELEASE

Independent news website SalfordOnline.com to close after 10 years

Social enterprise SalfordOnline.com CIC is to close its doors this month.

The community-focused news and features website bows out after 10 years as the de facto place for people to get daily news in Salford.

Serving a regular readership of 35,000 unique readers a week, the news website also has a very large social media following, with an 18,000-member Facebook group and over 10,000 followers on Twitter.

http://www.facebook.com/groups/salfordonline

http://www.twitter.com/salfordonline

Since the beginning of 2016, 2.8 million unique readers have read over 4.5 million pages on SalfordOnline.com.

The site continues to draw readership from all over the world, including Australia, Canada, Russia, USA, Brazil and South Africa.

News Editor and Director Tom Rodgers said: “It is with great sadness that I have decided to shut the company down.

“I started here as a volunteer writer and photographer in 2007, with no journalism experience.

“I quickly found that all you really needed to succeed was to work harder than everyone else, and to open the doors for others who needed a leg-up in the industry.

“It was always my vision to provide a 24/7 newspaper that the people of Salford deserve.

“Now, if anybody wants to find out what’s going on outside their front door in Salford, where’s the place they turn first? SalfordOnline.com.”

As the website became more recognised and established editorially it founded and ran the very first Salford Business Expo to support its business operations.

This annucal business-to-business event grew from 50 to 110 exhibitors by 2014, an incredible effort for such a small team.

SalfordOnline.com’s innovation and focus on continuous publishing made it a seven-day-a-week operation.

“Salford has lost so much in recent years, it still seems ridiculous to me that it doesn’t have its own daily paper,” said Rodgers.

“In 2011 Salford’s Magistrates Courts were closed down by the Conservative government. With it left the city’s ability to administer its own justice.

“Other rights and responsibilities have been seriously eroded.

“Some of its biggest businesses don’t even want Salford in their name.

“And yet Salford as a city is growing. Population is set to increase by 10% or more over the next 8-10 years.

“I’ve been told that in losing SalfordOnline.com, Salford as a city will lose a massive community asset.

“Without wanting to sound arrogant – and with massive and devoted help from all our volunteers – we’ve built up something that’s become precious to people and it’s really blossomed.

“SalfordOnline.com was about more than just news. It was about community. About the good things that people did.

“But the site grew more rapidly than the infrastructure that was available to support it.

“We have achieved an awful lot with a budget as close to zero as it makes no difference,” said Rodgers.

“SalfordOnline.com’s focus is local, but our reach is truly international,”

“That’s thanks to all the professional photographers who should have charged us, but didn’t because they liked us, what we were doing, and what we stood for.

“All the writers who turned in copy all year round because they liked being associated with SalfordOnline.com

“Hundreds of people will no longer have a place to be mentored and trained in the art of community journalism, social media reporting, photography, video editing – we offered all of this, because we felt it was a good thing to do.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we achieved over the years.

“Along with Salford historian Tony Flynn and Salford UNISON we successfully campaigned to install a historic red plaque for the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Bexley Square – this will be part of the legacy of SalfordOnline.com.”

News, video, pictures and features have been syndicated to The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Irish Post, Sky News and The Guardian**.

“When the owner and Managing Director Brian Everall stepped away and left me as sole director last year, we had a review.

“It said if we couldn’t make SalfordOnline.com financially viable within 12 months, we’d have to take the tough decision to close it down.

“We set ambitious targets editorially and hit them, easily: moving from 10,000 uniques to an average 35,000 uniques a week by July 2014,” said the news editor.

“Unfortunately we’ve not been able to leverage a sales team to take advantage of our massive reach to scale the business in any meaningful way.

“We conducted a review in 2015 to try to identify other income streams that would support the news operation.

“Despite the hard work of staff and volunteers we have been unable to match up sales with the breadth and reach of our audience and the quality of our editorial.

“So as sole director it falls on me to make the tough but responsible decision.

“It’s been an incredible journey and I would like to thank the team here for all their hard work.”

SalfordOnline.com will remain online as a resource for readers to dip back into the social history of the city – looking back not only to the news produced over the past 10 years but also in a historical sense to see where Salford has come from, and where it is now.

Additional info

SalfordOnline.com changed from a Ltd company to a registered Community Interest Company (a kind of social enterprise) in 2010.

SalfordOnline.com’s offices are at Repeat House, Bright Road, Eccles, M30 0WG.

**Syndication:

(Pictures)

Sky News: Pilot Injured After Plane Crashes Into Tree In Salford

The Sun: Magnum Force: Ice-cream vans in ‘Grand Theft Auto’ chase

(Video)

The Guardian: Salford shooting of mother and son linked to gangland murder of Paul Massey

Enquiries to: Tom Rodgers – 07966921194 (tomrodgersmedia@gmail.com)

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Tom Rodgers

Tom is SalfordOnline.com's News Editor and community co-ordinator.