This week marks the one year anniversary of Nailed.
Incredibly, the site has had almost 90,000 views since going live and we regularly get thousands of visitors clicking on our articles every week. It’s testament to the hard work of not just our regular editors and contributors, but also the people who inform us about events and interesting going-ons in Belper.
A new hope
Nailed had humble beginnings, like many things it started off as an idle conversation in the pub between friends. Quite a few of us had grown tired of the local media not representing what was actually happening in Belper and thought we could do better. This led to an open meeting at the Lion, which was attended by around thirty people, all of whom helped decide the direction the community newspaper should take.
With help from local website company Mango Hill we went live last November and have slowly and steadily worked to build the site into what we have today. With over 500 articles so far, the site is not just a place for news but also an archive for local history.
Nailed was established to be a voice for the community; in that respect I feel it has been a success. We’ve covered wide ranging current affairs from local planning, to homelessness, immigration, community projects and climate change. On top of this we’ve tried to show that Belper has an astounding array of cultural depth with coverage of music, drama, film, art and craft events.
One thing we have had to learn in a short space of time is that we can’t cover everything. We would like to, obviously, but part of what makes a community newspaper so versatile is that everyone contributes.
The role of local journalism
With global events being so tumultuous this year it’s easy to overlook or understate the importance of local journalism. If anything, I think that Nailed and platforms similar to it are more desperately needed than ever. In a time when ignorance, xenophobia and pessimism are on the rise; there needs to be a platform, a mouthpiece for those who still believe things can change for the better.
Journalism as a whole faces serious challenges as it tries to adapt to a dramatic shift in how we receive the news. The truth is, journalism isn’t making any money. It’s almost impossible for outlets like Belper News to cover local issues when newsrooms are shrinking or merging together, journalists are being terminated and local knowledge is at a premium.
Whilst it is easy to bemoan endless page crashing pop-up adverts, click bait and market research questions, media outlets are forced to use these strategies to earn the bare minimum required to continue. People have become used to getting their news for free, but it isn’t – even when it is on the internet. In some respects we are lucky at Nailed because we’re a volunteer group and not a business. That being said, we still have overheads and are always looking for local companies to advertise with us (plug over).
So, mission complete?
Well, no. To use a cliché, running a newspaper – and any volunteer organisation for that matter – is a marathon, not a sprint. And I will be the first to admit that during the year I didn’t always got the balance right when it came to working on Nailed. Trying to fit volunteering around work and other life commitments is a challenge for many people and it’s important to stop once in a while and reflect on how far you have come. When I look at sites like the Saddleworth News, LeftLion and Sheffield Forum I feel inspired by what local journalism can do and the directions the paper could take in the future.
It takes many years to connect with people; to build up trust in the community. Even now, most Belper residents know Mr Potato Head better than they know our site, so there is a long way to go when it comes to engagement. On top of that I’ve yet to meet a single person in Belper who doesn’t have an opinion on the state of the North Mill or the Tea Rooms in the River Gardens. Likewise, I’ve spoken to countless people who are desperate for a good guide to all the events in town. All these things (and more) we will get to in time, but until then Nailed will remain dedicated to giving you the best news service we can provide.
So whether you joined us recently or were there from the start, we would all like to thank you for reading and look forward to your support in the future.