The day has come
You can now join The Tribune as a member and be part of our future
Good morning readers — and welcome to a very exciting day in The Tribune’s history: our membership launch day! You can now become one of the very first members of The Tribune, simply by clicking on the button below…
Members will get all our journalism in their inboxes, including two extra members-only newsletters each week, which will include long reads, in-depth news reporting, interviews, culture stories and mini-briefings with our latest recommendations and news roundups. Members will also join our community, meaning they can comment on stories, take part in our members-only discussion threads and join our members’ Facebook group. And, crucially, they will be the patrons of a new source for quality journalism in this city, one that we hope will be an important institution in Sheffield for years to come.
If you need a bit more persuasion than that, below is a piece about where we’ve come from and where we’re going.
By Dan Hayes
The Tribune was first born as an idea in early January. At the time I was working at The Star, but not enjoying it. A few months previously I’d noticed a new publication called The Mill, which was pioneering a new form of local journalism in Greater Manchester. The writing was thoughtful, nuanced and based on the needs of readers rather than advertisers. I found it inspiring.
I got in touch with The Mill’s editor, Joshi Herrmann, and we started talking about the idea of setting up something similar in Sheffield. After a few months of long phone chats and a few face-to-face meetings, we published our first newsletter on March 29. This was followed in early April by a feature about community gardens in Meersbrook, and we were on our way.
Since then we’ve been publishing two free stories every week; our Monday briefing and a weekend long read. We’ve done stories on Sheffield politics with our elections expert Jason Leman. We’ve also done pieces on forgotten aspects of the city’s history such as when Cardinal Wolsey stayed at Manor Lodge. And we will continue to publish stories for free every week, because doing journalism that makes a public impact and can be read by anyone in the city is a big part of our mission.
But from today, The Tribune will start to publish more regularly, and some of those stories will just be for our paying members. First we will move to publishing four days a week, with stories on Tuesday and Thursday added to our Monday briefing and Saturday long read. But in order for us to make what we are doing sustainable, we need financial support from you: our readers.
At the moment it’s just me, with some help from the fantastic team at The Mill including Joshi and his first staff member Dani Cole. There will also be regular contributions from brilliant local freelancers, including young writers and journalists who have been working in the city for decades. But in order to sustain this new model, we need lots of you to join as members. This will mean we can grow The Tribune from a plucky upstart into a news source that can genuinely compete with the city’s traditional media companies.
We won’t do this by seeking to ape what they do. As you might have guessed by now, The Tribune isn’t your typical local paper. Covering every bit of breaking news won’t be a big part of our output, although like all newspapers we are interested in good scoops. But we think people need something different. A more thoughtful, considered news which seeks to inform and explain rather than sensationalise.
Please forgive me for getting a bit technical here but I think it’s important. A report published last year by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford identified a way to fix the broken model of local news. The report was entitled “Publish less, but publish better,” and should have made much more of an impact than it did.
“Publish less, but publish better” will be the mantra of The Tribune. Some national and international media commentators and organisations have called this approach “slow news,” which gets at the problem many people face today: not too little news, but too much. People have information coming at them from all angles, but it’s our job as journalists to point out what is true and what is important, and to put the world in context.
Over the last 20 years, tens of thousands of journalists, editors and support staff have been let go by newspaper groups, including many in Sheffield. This has inevitably affected the quality of what we read in our newspapers, but just as importantly it has changed what they cover as well, with easy social media stories replacing more time consuming investigations.
Plus, when readers visit local newspaper websites now, countless adverts break up the text and fly in from all sides. Since I launched The Tribune, so many people have told me they have essentially given up on reading traditional news websites because the intrusive adverts make it more trouble than it’s worth.
It shows why there is a growing consensus that the only way to fix local news is by making subscriptions from readers the main revenue model. If readers are the main funder of your journalism, you can serve them and do what’s best for them, prioritising quality reporting and giving them a good user experience.
As The Mill has shown in Manchester, there is an appetite for a different type of local journalism — one that focuses on quality rather than quantity and builds a close relationship with its readers rather than bombarding them with ads. It will have to start off small — and you can’t get any smaller than one person — but if it works we will be able to build a team of journalists and create a sustainable model of local news in Sheffield.
When I started The Tribune just over three months ago, I never imagined almost 4,500 of you would have signed up to the mailing list by now. I think that shows that we’re on to something. Now, we’re asking you to support us by becoming a paying member.
We will take our responsibilities to you, the reader, seriously. Every story we send will include original reporting rather than re-written press releases, and our work will be meticulously researched and fact-checked before we send it out. That’s how we can produce stories as good as this one our fantastic trainee Mollie Simpson wrote about Ethel Haythornthwaite or this one about the 60th birthday of Park Hill flats.
I’ll admit that The Tribune is something new and I’m asking you to take a bit of a punt on me. I’ve taken a very big punt on this project myself, by leaving my job to do it. But I think the prize — a new source of long form, thoughtful and considered journalism for Sheffield — is worth taking a risk for. I hope you do too.
Please join up as one of our first-ever members by clicking the button below.
Being a member of The Tribune
Get The Tribune’s full coverage, receiving newsletters from us every couple of days, including two members-only posts per week.
Join our community, including contributing to our online discussion threads and talking to other members under stories and in our members’ Facebook group.
Support the creation of a new place for quality journalism in Sheffield, allowing us to fund more reporting and build a news team.
Things to bear in mind:
The Tribune is brand new and is based on a new model, so inevitably as we grow we will make changes to what we publish and how we do things. We will always tell you about the changes we are making and explain the thinking behind them.
Members will receive posts from The Tribune every week of the year, but there will be a handful of weeks when we will publish on a reduced schedule while I take time off.
If you have any issues signing up or have a question, just hit reply to this newsletter or email firstname.lastname@example.org.