The slow news start-up Tortoise is offering its members the opportunity to share a free one-year membership to key workers in a bid to bring unheard voices of the Covid-19 crisis into its stories.
The venture headed up by former Times editor James Harding last year created the Tortoise Network to involve to people who don’t usually have a voice in news by distributing funded memberships.
Tortoise says one third of its members have joined this way in order to ensure its journalism reaches the people who are hardest to reach.
In an email to members, Tortoise founders Katie Vanneck-Smith and James Harding said: “Right now, we all know someone – from nurses to posties, the milkman to your local village shop – who has kept on working throughout the lockdown to keep the rest of us safe and fed. They deserve a personal and heartfelt thank you.
“We think the best way we can thank them, as a news organisation, is to listen to them and tell their stories.”
Last Friday, Tortoise held a ThinkIn – digital conference discussion – to investigate the future of local news, which was attended by 20 local newsrooms around the UK.
Contributors included CEO of Newsworks Tracy De Groose who explained how the advertising system is ‘broken’ as a result of coronavirus being listed on advertisers’ blocklists.
Possible solutions to the financial crisis faced by the industry were explored, including a collective voice of local journalists to lobby MPs for local newspapers to be classed as charities – which would ease finances for some struggling organisations.
The discussion also heard contributions from SoE president and digital editor of Reach Regionals, Alison Gow, to reporters on the ground such as Jennifer Jones, a reporter at the Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press. The conference was chaired by Tortoise editor and SoE board member, Polly Curtis.
Find out more about the discussion here.