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Editor’s letter: Dispatch earns recognition for its community journalism at London awards ceremony

By John Baron, editor

West Leeds was represented at a glitzy awards ceremony in London’s South Bank on Tuesday night as the Dispatch was nominated for Community Newspaper of the Year at the prestigious Newspaper Awards.

The national awards recognises quality in print – and it was lovely to join the ‘big boys’ such as the Guardian, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph etc at the Hilton Bankside – it was certainly very posh!

We didn’t win – many congrats go to Mark and his team at the excellent Peckham Peculiar – but we were one of eight shortlisted titles for the awards, with more than 30 brilliant publications across the UK entering. It was an achievement for us just to be there.

Proud: WLD editor John Baron

It’s also a throughly deserved recognition for our volunteer community reporters, who put in so much work to contribute words and photos and help to tell the stories of their community, connecting people to local achievements, community groups, news and what’s on. Our volunteer-led board of directors also put in so much unseen work behind the scenes.

And we were commended! The judges said: “A fantastic community-led publisher that’s grown… in the seven years since launch and has empowered local people with a voice.”

West Leeds, take a well-deserved bow! And congratulations to all the titles who were nominated.

Judges added: “It is clear that the hyperlocal market is growing fast, and while a number of titles struggled during the two years of Covid-19, these highly targeted newspapers are gaining traction and revenue and stepping up big-time to engage communities in areas now underserved by traditional weeklies.”

Worth noting that when I returned to my hotel room at 11pm, I was straight back on the laptop preparing content for the next day’s online WLD – no rest for the wicked as news never stops!

Proud moment: WLD flashes up on screen!

Last month saw WLD’s online operation enjoy almost 131,000 page impressions – our largest monthly readership since the height of the pandemic a couple of years ago.

The past couple of weeks have been busy ones – the bus cuts which start from tomorrow have caused particular consternation among readers. It’s good to see the number 9 being saved, but concerns remain over the re-routing of the 508 away from Farsley and Bramley and over other services. We’ll keep an eye on what’s happening with those.

Last week’s article on plans for a drive-thru restaurant near Kirkstall Morrisons was also very well read – and has again highlighted concerns over the horrendous traffic problems in that part of West Leeds. We’ll continue to follow that proposed development as it goes through the planning process.

Support independent people-powered journalism in West Leeds

The West Leeds Dispatch is the independent voice of West Leeds, run by a group of passionate local residents.

We have a community led board of volunteers and a team of community reporters. We are an independent grass roots organisation made in West Leeds itself – but local journalism costs money to produce and we need your support to ensure the long-term sustainability of our project. 

We’re inviting our loyal readers to become supporters of the West Leeds Dispatch, to help keep the lights on for our project and help shape our future. Find out more about becoming a supporter here.

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  1. Well done and very deserved congratulations to you John and all the team. You do an excellent job keeping the residents of West Leeds informed.
    Thank you for all you do for us.


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