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How local tech-only journalism is becoming viable
The tables have turned on one of the UK’s top technology journalists. For more than five years Peter Evans made a name for himself in the sector as The Sunday Times’ Enterprise Editor. He quit the News Corp-owned outlet and the Big Smoke last September for a relocation to sunny Cornwall.
The county, situated in the South West of England, is well-known in Britain for its beautiful beaches, surf and luxury bolt-holes. It is safe to say that it doesn’t have a reputation for technological innovation.
But Evans wants to change this and that’s how he found himself in the “weird” position of being interviewed by FN. “[There is] a groundswell of tech businesses in the South West,” he said. “[But] what is lacking is funding because VC and private equity firms won’t look at this region because they don’t see it as a hot-bed of technology start-ups.”
To help combat this awareness issue he has joined South West Tech Daily as editor. The new outlet, which has a presence on Twitter, wants to focus start-ups, scale-ups, science parks and investors, among other things, in the region.
As for the revenue model, it is not a subscription-driven publication like fellow upstart Manchester Mill or other similar outlets which will be joining Substack’s recently announced local news initiative (writers can get cash advances of $100,000).
Instead, South West Tech Daily will be looking for sponsorship deals from local professional and financial services firms who want to get in front of the next big tech companies in the region.
On the editorial side, it has three verticals, including news, interviews and opinions, where companies, investors and business leaders can contribute to the outlet (submissions are edited and “quality control” is in place, Evans assured FN).
Bristol-based AI chip maker Graphcore is a go-to case study for the region’s technology credentials, as is the marine and environmental technology being developed thanks to the presence of the University of Plymouth.
The University of Exeter, University of Bath and University of Bristol are also regarded as some of the UK’s top research universities and their knowledgebase and graduates will only help the South West’s technology ambitions. Then there is Gloucestershire-based GCHQ and the cyber-security industry surrounding it.
Evans wants the South West Tech Daily to be like UKTechNews or the FT’s Sifted, which he described as an “inspiration” mostly because of its accessibility. But what about the competition, aren’t the well-established regional and local outlets in the South West already covering this exciting and transformative sector?
“There are adverts popping up everywhere, poorly written stories and there’s no particular focus [in the business pages],” Evans said. “There is no specialist focus.”
So, with two others onboard, where does the editor see the project going over the next 12 months? “It’s early days, but it’s all dependent on the quality and quantity of the content…[we’re] hoping that it sustains itself.”
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