A hyperlocal magazine publisher which refused to let the pandemic stop it getting the local news out has received a grant from Google.
Just Regional, an organisation which produces 10 news magazines in Norfolk, received the grant from the technology giant’s relief fund – a scheme designed to help news titles through the coronavirus crisis.
Editor Tracey Bagshaw said: “This is amazing news. It has been well documented that some large organisations have felt the pinch, but small organisations such as us have also had to adapt to survive, and it’s great to see that effort recognised.”
Just Regional paused printing its monthly magazines in March, mainly to protect its team of more than 100 delivery boys and girls, turning its attention to putting stories online via its website, Facebook and Twitter.
Its online interactions grew up to 1,000pc in all areas as readers logged on for daily updates, breaking news and features.
It returned to print in June with a merged publication covering all areas. The well-received magazine was delivered to 50,000 homes in six market towns and four Norwich suburbs. Another edition is about to be delivered, with a further one in production later this month.
“We never stopped during the lockdown as we were determined to keep giving people a mix of vital information, local news and some of the more heart-warming moments which were going on in our communities,” said Tracey.
Just Regional has been producing popular hyperlocal magazines for 12 years. Owner Lee Todd said the importance of local news could not be overestimated and he was thrilled that it had been recognised in this way.
“Google, this massive international company, has backed us – a company based in Aylsham, a small Norfolk market town – because it believes in what we are doing,” he said.
“They were impressed how we kept going through the pandemic and that we are rising from the ashes, unlike some bigger publications which are struggling all across the country.
“Our readers and advertisers have stuck with us throughout this and we are grateful for their loyal support.”
Richard Gingras, vice-president of news at Google, said: “Local news is a vital resource for keeping people and communities connected in the best of times.
“Today, it plays an even greater function in reporting on local lockdowns or shelter at home orders, school and park closures, and data about how covid-19 is affecting daily life.
“But that role is being challenged as the news industry deals with job cuts, furloughs and cutbacks as a result of the economic downturn.”