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The New Online Journalists #5: Nigel Barlow

As part of an ongoing series on recent graduates who have gone into online journalism, founder of Inside The M60 Nigel Barlow talks about what led him to launch his own news site, and where it might go next.

At the age of 43 I took the momentous decision to come out of finance and business and train to become a journalist starting a 3 year course at UCLAN.

I think I quickly realised that journalism was undergoing a massive change both in technology and in business and I quickly got into the conversation in my first year using blogging and then Twitter as well as attending as many journalism conferences in the flesh as possible.

For me the tools of new media, blogs, easy to use video, Twitter, RSS feeds etc. were a necessary tool for anyone wanting to break into journalism.

But more than that, it was changing the fundamentals of the economics of publishing and making me think that the route for me would be to go down the low cost route of setting up a niche site.

I have to say that apart from a few individuals on the UCLAN course (Andy [Dickinson] obviously) there was little encouragement to go down the route I have taken. The traditional paths into journalism were the ones that were being paraded and the use of new media, I have to say, was bolted on to courses rather than being the norm.

Very few of my fellow students blogged except when they had to for course work and Twitter was not used to any great extent.

When I graduated, the idea probably hadn’t still formed for Inside the M60 but my six months working at Innovation Manchester setting up their social media network opened my eyes to a lot of what was going on in Manchester which simply was not being reported (besides making loads of contacts).

I’d met Louise [Bolotin] through Twitter and then Social Media Cafe and coming back together from a journalism conference we decided that there was too much talking about journalism’s future and not enough action. We found that we had both been thinking about a news site for Manchester, maybe in slightly different ways.

I started to talk to a number of people in Manchester and in the industry about it and here we are today: still with a lot to do but excitingly building up a great brand in the city and ruffling the traditionalists’ feathers.

As to how it develops in the future: the project is already changing direction. I want to move away from the “hyperlocal” tag which seems to have so many connotations and instead, with the right amount of resource, I want to make Inside The M60 the news site for Manchester which will be sustainable as a low cost provider.

This may be pie in the sky at the moment but I’m ambitious

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