A letter from the Editor

Last September we celebrated the 100th edition of South Leeds Life with a thank you get together for our subscribers and sponsors.

I made a short speech expressing my pride at having reached 100 editions, but pointing out that, whilst I hoped South Leeds Life made it to 200, I wouldn’t be around as Editor by then.

It’s a simple question of maths. It took us about 9 years to reach 100 (we don’t print in August unless there’s a pandemic). In another nine years I’ll have been getting my state pension for five years, assuming the government doesn’t move the goalposts again.

Much as I enjoy editing South Leeds Life, I’d like to enjoy my retirement.

South Leeds Life is a going concern. We have a number of income streams, most importantly our subscribers and sponsors. We get some advertising income, we get fees from Google, thanks to a deal negotiated by the Independent Community News Network (ICNN) which we are members of. As a not-for-profit social enterprise we can apply for grants, although that’s not always straightforward.

We have enough income to cover our costs by and large, so it’s not a case of leaving a sinking ship.

The other side of that coin (pun intended) is that there is not a lot of money to be made in newspapers. I don’t get paid a lot, I’m not complaining, I found myself at a point in my life when my costs had reduced, so I could afford to live on a small salary. I also have a very supportive partner.

This is all a rather roundabout way of saying that we need to find a new Editor. Not tomorrow or next month, but the next couple of years. There’s a viable business, but not a great salary, unless the new editor can grow the income.

I’m putting this out there so that you can start thinking about who you know that might want to take it on.

What does the job entail? There’s a website to manage, making sure that there is a steady stream of stories being published and managing comments. Some articles that are sent in need to be tweaked, some need to be rewritten. Volunteer writers need to be trained, coached and/or supported.

There’s an email account to manage and sift the relevant stories from the spam.

Then the newspaper has to be laid out, sorting the stories and photos to fit together onto 24 pages and uploading it to the printers on time. Once printed 6,000 copies need distributing to 200 pick up points (with some help).

My work model is essentially to work part time for two weeks, full time for two weeks with a manic, intense weekend every four weeks before we go to print on the Monday morning. I originally wrote this at 7:30pm on Sunday before the deadline.

Having said that my news antennae are active pretty much 24/7 and I will drop what I’m doing to pick up a story that is urgent.

I’m not suggesting that this is the optimal way to run the paper and website, but it’s how I do it. For that I’m currently paid £880 a month. As I say, someone else might be able to grow the income and pay themselves more.

What skills and attributes do you need to edit South Leeds Life?

You need an interest in people and the life of our communities. The job is bit nosey-parker-ish, but tempered by respect.

You can read our Aims here, they’re all about helping people to be active in their neighbourhood and we believe that in order to do that you need to know what’s going on.

You don’t need to be a trained journalist, I’m not, but I’ve picked up bits and pieces of training over many years. And I know journalists I can ask for advice when I need it.

You need to have, or to build, a network in our communities. I’ll pass on my contacts, but you’ll need to build the relationships if you don’t have them already.

It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s a great job for the right person. If this has piqued your interest do get in touch.

Email: info@southleedslife.com or call 07894 583966


Photo: Mentoring a volunteer writer

While you’re here, can we ask a favour?

South Leeds Life is published by a not-for-profit social enterprise. We keep our costs as low as possible but we’ve been hit by increases in the print costs for our monthly newspaper which have doubled in the last two years.

Could you help support local community news by making a one off donation, or even better taking out a supporters subscription?

Donate here, or sign up for a subscription at bit.ly/SLLsubscribe

Thank you for your support


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