Salford Online closes down
A real shame this, which is why I’m choosing to report this sad news.
Despite being the home of the BBC in the North and MediaCityUK, it seems Salford cannot sustain the independent social enterprise SalfordOnline.com CIC, which 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.
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 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.