Community news and investigative journalism for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets London

Love Wapping is closing down

By on October 21, 2015 in News, Status Update

Love Wapping is closing down on Friday 23rd October 2015. After a few years doing the whole hyperlocal publishing thing in Wapping London E1W it’s time to go.

"Closed Sign" by JamesAlan1986 Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

“Closed Sign” by JamesAlan1986 Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The absolutely only reason Love Wapping is closing down and the Wapping Mole will be off to find a new burrow is that the LW editorial team cannot afford to publish it.

Direct publishing costs for a hyperlocal site of this type are not that high but when they come out of your own pocket they add up.

Direct hosting and software costs are around £75 a month but the main hyperlocal hit is time.

Any time devoted to running a hyperlocal is time when you are not earning a living. So the more hyperlocal work the less you earn. And as you are subsidising the hyperlocal from your earnings… Doh!

So you fairly soon find yourself with another full time job. Which not only doesn’t pay you anything but actually costs you to do.

Even creating a simple post like this one takes at least 30 minutes. More complex ones take a couple of hours.

And then of course there are the investigative stories we have been running. Not only does investigative journalism takes lots and lots and lots of time but it also requires subscriptions to various professional search tools that LW could just not afford.

The amount of work the story of the fall of Whatsisname and cronies required was a huge hit as it required months and months of work.

Crunch time for LW came when the last two weeks of the 2015 Mayoral election coincided with LW’s need to find somewhere else to live.

The Trojan Borough of Tower Hamlets

Choice was to keep on working with loads of other people across the borough to make sure the democratic process was followed and hopefully stop Tower Hamlets become a ‘Trojan Borough’ or get somewhere to live sorted.

So…. well, you can guess what happened.

LW’s friends told our editorial team to get their priorities right.

But we had! 🙂 Hadn’t we?

Determined squirrel after nuts

One of our investigative reporters determined to get the story. Or the nuts.

Hyperlocal reality

The reality for hyperlocal publications such as Love Wapping and What’s in Wapping – the original Wapping hyperlocal – is that there is no established business model that allows a hyperlocal to provide a service to the community which it serves.

Hyperlocals have no other purpose than to serve their community – trouble is nobody wants to pay for new and information. Advertising on sites this small does not work. LW earned the princely sum of £3.52 the first month we tried it. We bought some cheese and onion crisps.

The Kickstarter approach is another way to do things but this takes a significant amount of upfront work and time and we do not have the latter to do the former. Also Kickstarter only, as the name says, gets things started. Without a reliable and predictable income stream it would be a waste of a good kick.

Seems our editorial staff – and the Wapping Wildlife Rangers – actually need a salary. Cheeky gits.

Let’s go European!

Hyperlocal geeks might be interested in this very good piece by Damian Radcliffe: How can crowdfunding support media business models?

The only way that Love Wapping could survive (maybe) is by a subscription method as practised by Krautreporter in Germany or De Correspondent in Holland.

The approach taken by Krautreporter (what an ace name!) and De Correspondent seems to be that people donate money to the publication and er… that’s it. Everyone gets to read the content. Everyone gets to benefit from the work.

Weird huh? People doing stuff for other people so everyone benefits.

To quote directly from De Correspondent:

“The Correspondent is a Dutch online journalism platform that focuses on background, analysis, investigative reporting, and the kinds of stories that tend to escape the radar of the mainstream media because they do not conform to what is normally understood to be news. We currently have 37,000 paid subscribers.”

So it can work. De Correspondent is now translating stories into English so why not subscribe? And give them money?

It would be great to be able to do this and extend Love Wapping’s coverage across the whole of Tower Hamlets and indeed East London as a whole, but at the moment we have neither the luxury of time to do this or… anything!

Note the emphasis by De Correspondent on ‘background, analysis, investigative reporting, and the kinds of stories that tend to escape the radar of the mainstream media’. Something sadly lacking in London. And oddly enough the sort of thing Moley loves!

If LW is ever back in business it could only be by using a similar subscription model.

But this is all pie in the sky. LW and the Wapping Mole needs to:

  1. Find a burrow where they can both live without fear of being on the street in a week
  2. Stock the burrow with some food
  3. Earn some money

That’s them screwed then.

Stories still need to be told

The absolute worst thing in closing our doors is knowing that Wapping residents have stories that need to be told and if LW does not give those people a voice those stories will probably never be heard.

That’s just plain wrong whatever our excuse.

We live in the Information Age overwhelmed by the background noise of social media nonsense. But we resort to sticking things on street signs to deliver information to residents.

The good news is that the analytical skills honed on the previous Mayor of the proud London borough of Tower Hamlets will be used again in future… on the previous Mayor of the proud London borough of Tower Hamlets!  And his colleagues of course. It would be rude to ignore them.

Don’t give up the day jobs boys and girls.

Goodbye – and thanks for all the nuts!

We might be able to get some more stories published between now and Friday but we aren’t promising anything. 

wapping-mole-featured-600-400

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