To Be Or Not To Be

THE CANVEY BEAT STORY is about to reach its conclusion. On May 7th, we will know if a small local blog can take on the combined might of the local press, so-called ‘independent’ councillors and the local MP to reveal the latter’s fabrications and lies designed to retain his safe parliamentary seat and its associated expenses.

Can a small local blog, with just two to three-hundred readers per day, claim any influence over the opinions of 40,000 local residents whom unanimously voted for Spink and his Canvey Island Independent Party at the last elections?

Will the Truth out? Or will it be buried beneath the pages of the Yellow Advertiser and the local Echo that each carry the MP’s propaganda?

The experiment is coming rapidly to an end and I find myself asking: ‘If it takes a story about a corrupt MP to achieve some 6,000 readers a month, what on earth does it take to achieve a commercially viable 60,000?’

The answer is not additional coverage. When I began, 49% of readers requested that I cover local politics – so, even if I covered everything, the blog is unlikely to reach any more than 12,000 a month. Just one-fifth of what is needed to offer commercial advertising.

The fact is that the Canvey Beat will never be commercially viable. Once the elections have taken place (and Spink has hopefully been deposed) there will be little of interest to write about. Just boring council meetings conducted by competent councillors. The real political news will rest in parliament as it comes to grips with Labour’s legacy.

When I began the Canvey Beat there was virtually no coverage of Canvey Island in the local press – and neither Borough Council or Town Council meetings were regularly covered. But that is no longer the case. If nothing else the Canvey Beat has shown the local press that there is still a viable market, for them, to cover such meetings.

So the Canvey Beat is winding down. It will no longer carry unbiased pieces drawn from the best of the national newspapers in the hope that residents might buy a copy. And it will no longer cover the ‘hard work’ of our local MP.

It will either stand as a monument to this particular journalist’s foolishness – or as a testament to the fact that a lone blogger really can make a difference in the face of overwhelming odds.

May 7th will reveal which is to be the case…

… (Canvey Beat, 07/05/2010) – Bye, Bye, Bob – Hello, Rebecca

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2 responses to “To Be Or Not To Be

  1. Cynical Observer

    Surely you don’t mean to leave all your regular readers in the lurch?

    The island still needs an independent voice providing a proper analysis of local issues Ted.

    You are not going to close it down?

    • No, Cynical. I do not intend to ‘close it down;’ but I do need to rethink its format.

      At the moment I am spending some 20 hours a week on it – and some two-hundred readers a day does not justify that amount of work.

      I had thought that publishing national pieces would generate some local debate; but the fact is they are the least read posts on the blog – so I cannot justify the time spent selecting and publishing them.

      Similarly, after May 7th, the Spink theme, which is currently the most read, will (hopefully) not be there to attract readers. I reckon that, in consequence, readership will fall back to around 100 a day.

      As far as politics goes there will be the Borough and Town Council to cover – but there has been no ‘news’ from the Town Council since its inception (so there is unlikely to be much in the future).

      What I could do is extend the Blog’s coverage to include the whole of Castle Point – from a political perspective. I could focus on Borough meetings and ‘flesh-out’ the issues on a ward by ward basis with some photo coverage. And I could also provide, say, a quarterly report on Castle Point’s MP.

      As always, though, the problem is time – and I need to cut-back on that. So the solution seems to be to limit posts to just a few each week. Rather than posting on a daily basis, I intend to queue articles for publication over the week-end – turning the Canvey Beat into a type of online Sunday magazine…