Newsnet Scotland … the final stretch

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  We’re officially into the last 200 days of the referendum campaign, so it’s time to let our readers know where we are and what we plan as we move forward to the referendum itself.

This time last year the site was attracting around 80,000 unique visitors each month.  In the space of twelve months we have increased our readership by an impressive 60,000 and are now on course to reach over 150,000 unique visitors in March – the first six days of this month has witnessed over 38,000 unique visitors.

It’s an impressive figure but as we said last year it’s nowhere near what is required if we are to make an impact in the debate – or at least what passes for debate.

This week has seen the BBC both in Scotland and at UK level, ramp up the anti-independence rhetoric.  It’s no surprise to those of us who have been warning about the broadcaster for over four years and it’s a pattern that will continue right up until the referendum.  They are the conduit through which the anti-independence campaign delivers its message.

Each and every concern, contingency, scare and threat will be processed, manipulated and distributed by the broadcater’s massive media platform – it cannot be stopped.  However, as Newsnet Scotland has shown with the guilty verdict by the Trust, this behemoth can be countered with high quality evidence based articles.

Newsnet Scotland has evolved into a brand that is feared by those who oppose Scottish independence.  Our format that marries the best of citizen journalism with top quality professional content is one we feel will prove welcoming to the undecided voter – this is critical.

Our early startegy involved creating a revenue stream that would allow us to plan ahead and commit funds.  We achieved this through a mix of advertising and donations.  Once established we were able to attract freelance writers and increase content.  We’ve managed to grow steadily whilst at the same time limiting spending to match our income.

Good husbandry and generous readers allowed us to start our ambitious Duggy Dug project which saw Hollywood actor Brian Cox lend his voice to our cartoon character.  Duggy’s oil video has been watched by over 14,000 people on youtube and his next video will be released this weekend.

Duggy has yet to fully realise his potential.  Aimed at those with little interest in the referendum, or little time, Duggy provides a radical alternative to the traditional means by which political messages are usually conveyed.  We firmly believe that the four animations will help persuade many who may otherwise never be exposed to the alternative arguments as portrayed by the media, on the issues of oil, currency, EU membership and borders.  

Last year we ran our first Crowdfunding appeal which was moderately successful.  Some of the £13,000 has already been invested in an attempt at attracting new visitors to the site.  Initial monitoring suggests that it has been effective.

The next part of our strategy involves old fashioned leafleting.  You may have noticed our advert which invites readers to print off their own Newsnet Scotland flyers.  This is only a small part of our plan.  Currently we are arranging for tens of thousands of leaflets to be distributed across Scotland. 

At the time of writing this article we have already secured delivery of 85,000 Newsnet Scotland leaflest and the same number of Duggy Dug leaflets.  Our projection is for half a million leaflets to be distributed to homes the length and breadth of Scotland – all paid for from the money raised by our crowdfunding appeal.

Of course there would be no point in promoting a site that when visited by those yet to decide, contained little by way of persuasive or informative content.  To that end we have now commissoned one of Scotland’s best writers to provide interesting features regularly.

Respected journalist Peter Geoghegan has been commissioned to write eight articles for Newsnet Scotland, the first – Another Easterhouse is Possible – was published last week.  Peter joins Lesley Riddoch and David Torrance in an impressive line up of top quality commentators who will feature on Newsnet Scotland in the coming months.

A pool of trusted freelance writers providing news copy each and every day compliments the elite list above and we also boast the inimitable G.A.Ponsonby – a regular Newsnet Scotland writer from the very beginning.

It’s been a long hard slog, but we’re now in the finishing stretch.  Of course we would be nothing without those of you who visit, promote, donate and also provide us with occasional research and offline help.  We salute each and every one of you … all the more if you are one of the many thousands of foot soldiers putting in the hard slog on the streets.

By September 18th we will have done all we can, and that’s all anybody can ask.