OPINION: 11 million pages read as we reach our third birthday, we must be doing something right

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The Bedford Independent’s pages have been read 11 million times since its launch in November 2018.

Data provided by Google Analytics shows that since our launch we’ve consistently grown and have now hit 11,184,437 page views since 28 November 2018, with up to 160,000 readers each month.

Formed to plug the void of local news in Bedford, the Bedford Independent is committed to making sure our readers know exactly what’s happening on their doorstep.

In the last three years, we’ve published 4,561 articles that do just that.

They’ve ranged from promoting an event or charity project to news about local businesses, from highlighting a campaign formed by local people to calls for help to find a missing person.

We’ve helped criticise authority figures so that they may do better, helped reunite beloved pets with their owners, and helped people who have suffered discrimination.

Whatever we write about, we want our readers to get as much as they need from our articles, from all sides of the story, so they can make an informed decision.

Couple this with our culture and events sister publication the Bedford Clanger, it’s plain to see we’re delivering that and providing a comprehensive insight into what happens across Bedford Borough daily.

By local people for local people

With the readership of printed publications continuing to rapidly decline, many local news desks have been streamlined and are no longer based in the areas they serve.

One local print title is based in Milton Keynes, another former print title turned digital is edited from Chelmsford.

The Bedford Independent is committed to always being based in the Borough, which means we are not just able to report on stories quickly, sometimes from the scene, but we also know what matters to you.

We work with you, drink in the same pubs as you, shop in the same shops and our children go to the same schools.

We want to champion our Borough but also talk constructively about how it can do better. We can’t do this if we’re not living and breathing all things Bedford.

Firefighting breathing apparatus at the Bedford North Wing Fire in January 2019
Shortly after our launch, we were the only Bedford news desk reporting from the scene of the Bedford Hospital North Wing fire in January 2019

The bigger picture

While we are focused on reporting and supporting Bedford Borough, we play a wider role in maintaining the future of independent local news and the fight against fake news nationally.

We are regulated by IMPRESS and are also members of the Independent Community News Network (ICNN).

Both are designed to create stronger local news provision and increase trust in journalism and we take an active role in their work.

I sit on the Code Committee of independent press regulator IMPRESS, helping to make sure that members are committed to a code of conduct that meets modern ethical standards.

Read: Bedford Independent co-founder appointed to press regulator code committee

Meanwhile, co-managing editor Erica Roffe has just been appointed to the ICNN’s Advisory Panel to provide valuable assistance and strategic advice on local media matters.

Our commercial director, Julia Course-Crofts is also a part of the ICNN’s commercial network which looks at funding strategies that local media can tap into together.

The Bedford Independent is also part of the Local Democracy Reporting Scheme (LDRS), which gives local publishers access to reports on local authority matters.

In the three years since we joined the scheme, there have been two excellent LDRS journalists reporting for us and other publications in the area.

First was David Tooley, who has since gone on to work with the Shropshire Star, but has been a journalist in the area since 1988.

Now, the reporting is looked after by John Guinn, who also ran the Cranfield and Marston Vale Chronicle.

John has been a journalist since 2012 and has a wealth of local knowledge. He provides reports on Bedford Borough Council, Bedfordshire Police, the PCC, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue and local health services.

We also work closely with the South Beds News Agency who provide comprehensive and professional court reporting so our readers can see how, and if, justice is being served.

Erica Roffe
Co-managing editor Erica Roffe, speaking at the Trust in Journalism conference in London

Future writers

We’re proud to have supported several local writers who we are certain are going to have excellent careers in their chosen fields.

Former Bedford Blues Fly Half, Will Hooley, wrote for us while playing at Goldington Road and studying journalism at university.

While his rugby career has taken him to the USA to play with San Diego Legion, he continues to write for national media about rugby across the world.

Ivan Morris-Poxton covered a number of in-depth articles for us, including the Ox-Cam Arc and East West Rail. He’s now gone on to secure a full-time position as a journalist in Hull.

We continue to have a strong team of writers with us. Fay Barrett is currently studying with the NCTJ and covers both day-to-day duties and in-depth reports.

Whereas fully qualified Adam Leach uses his passion for Bedford to deep dive into a subject.

We’ve also got Tom Carr providing excellent sports coverage.

Tom works with clubs and coaches across the Borough to bring unrivalled coverage of rugby, cricket, hockey, swimming, athletics, football and more.

Tom Carr
As well as being our sports editor, Tom Carr also writes about and raises awareness of mental health issues

In fact, thanks to Tom, we’re the only publication to provide match reports for home and away games for Bedford Blues, Bedford Town FC and Bedford Hockey Club.

Of course, we’d always like to cover more so if you have a club you’d like us to feature, please email sport@bedfordindependent.co.uk.

A better Bedford

We truly want to do the best we can for our Borough. We work hard to get all angles to all stories, give credit where it’s due, and hold authority figures in all areas to account when needed.

We champion local people through our Everyday Heroes Awards, who would otherwise not receive the thanks they deserve, and we highlight the Borough’s excellent local businesses.

We are a small local business too, and we can’t do what we do for free.

We are funded transparently through advertising and ask local businesses and organisations to advertise with us through our websites and events.

But we believe that we also have a responsibility to support the local economy. So, 90% of the business articles currently on our pages is genuine public interest news and there free of charge.

Our letters page gives local people a chance to speak their minds or highlight something positive.

Monthly columns allow borough leaders to speak to you directly without interference, we have also recently launched a monthly column from Bedford’s disabled community.

Read: Bedford Independent’s monthly columns

Of course, we won’t always please everyone.

Some believe we don’t take an independent approach, others think we should do more in-depth articles. They’re free to have that opinion, and we listen to all feedback.

We work hard to remain balanced, although some people will never recognise this because it doesn’t fit their narrative. We’re also working even harder at being able to do more in-depth reporting and provide a greater quantity of news each day.

Our editorial resources, however, are not infinite and we currently do what we can when we can. As we continue to grow we’ll be able to devote more time to our reporting and building a better publication.

Read: Make a donation to the Bedford Independent 

What our readers can be sure of though is that the Bedford Independent’s only agenda is to write about what’s happening in our Borough so we might make it a better place to live, work and play.

Our editorial mission is designed to make sure you can trust what you read on our pages, that we will never just copy and paste press releases, and we won’t publish one-sided articles.

As a team, we all have different political views and our opinions on what is right and wrong for the area vary, but we will never impose those views on our readers.

When we do give a rare opinion, it will be clearly marked at the top of each article, like this one.

For everything else, you can count on us to provide genuine editorial with as much information as we can so you can make your own mind up.

After all, it’s your Borough too and we hope you’ll join us in continuing to be a part of making Bedford brilliant.

Now more than ever, we need your help to fund the Bedford Independent’s quality journalism that serves our community...

We choose to champion editorial independence, meaning we report the facts without bias and can stand up to those in power when we believe it’s needed.

We can give a voice to people in our community whose voices may otherwise not be heard. And we don’t have a paywall, so everyone can read the stories we publish for free.

But in this time of crisis, many news organisations all over the world are facing existential threat, with advertising revenues plummeting. We’re no different.

We work hard every day to bring you news, commentary, entertainment and announcements from across Bedford. We hope that, with your help, we’ll be able to continue this for many years to come.

Will you help sustain our work today by clicking below ? Even a small donation makes a difference for our future.

Thank you for your support.