Today marks the third anniversary of turning on BedfordIndependent.co.uk and beginning to provide, fact-checked, unbiased and comprehensive news about Bedford Borough.
Since 28 November 2018, we’ve published 4,135 public interest news pieces, 134 of which were exclusives, alongside 142 letters, 138 sports reports, 86 opinion pieces and 71 monthly columns.
We’ve also delivered our daily news briefing to subscribers for the last 1,095 days.
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Our pages have been read 11 million times and we have up to 160,000 readers each month.
We also offer monthly columns to all political leaders, regardless of affiliation, so they may speak to our thousands of readers unhindered each month, although not all have taken us up on this offer.
While we’re very grateful for the support we receive from our readers, building Bedford’s most popular news desk has not always been easy.
We’ve overcome personal sacrifices and, as a small business, we have also faced the same struggles and concerns any small business will in its early years.
Thankfully our commercial director, Julia Course-Crofts, has kept us robust during difficult times.
No one could have predicted that 14 months after our launch we’d be entering a worldwide pandemic and our revenue would all but disappear overnight.
Thankfully we had reserves to keep the website running and we collectively decided to make sure that, above all else, Bedfordians had a trusted source of independent news to call upon.
While local print publications closed temporarily, we continued publishing daily updates of the Covid-19 situation across the Borough.
We partnered with the NHS and Bedford Borough Council to provide vital advice to Bedfordians about where to access support during the lockdown.
We gave local businesses free advertising and published articles with links to all businesses who had adapted their offering to remain open, while face-to-face interaction was banned.
In May 2020, we received a boost when the European Journalism COVID-19 Support Fund and the Google News Initiative’s Journalism Relief Fund awarded us funding.
Proving that we do provide a vital service, this funding helped us to keep the lights on at a time when a genuine local news desk, providing fact-checked news, was needed now more than ever.
During the pandemic, we’ve written 443 related articles and updated our confirmed COVID-19 cases page daily, and now weekly, for the last 930 days.
Stronger than ever
As the world, hopefully, continues to reopen we’re finding that we’re leaving lockdown stronger than when we went in.
We’ve taken on two freelancers, who support our co-managing editors Erica Roffe and Paul Hutchinson, and a sales manager who are all equally as passionate about Bedford as they are for local news.
We’re also working on our second Everyday Heroes Awards.
The Everyday Heroes Awards, celebrate those people in Bedford who would otherwise go unnoticed and without rightful thanks from the Borough.
We’ll also soon be launching awards to celebrate Bedford’s local businesses and organisations too.
This is a part of our jobs that we all really enjoy.
Trust in journalism
Local news shouldn’t be there just to criticise for the sake of it, write clickbait articles about the weather, or blindly copy and paste media releases and their typos.
We want to provide local news that is proud of the patch it serves. Yes, we will point out where it can be improved, but we will do so constructively and with balance.
We are proud to follow a strict code of conduct to foster greater trust in Journalism
While local news desks must hold leaders and authority figures to account, we believe we are not here to judge.
Instead, we aim to provide as much accurate information as we can so our readers can make their own judgement.
You can then decide how you want to make a difference, either by voting differently, joining a campaign, donating to a charity, or choosing to shop elsewhere.
The Bedford Independent was set up by local people for local people and we want the same thing you do, to highlight what makes Bedford Borough brilliant and help it do better.
We hope you’ll continue to read our pages and take part in the conversations we inspire, and if you think we need to do more or want to tell us what we do well, let us know.