DMU graduates prepare to launch newspaper that will be 'a campaigning voice for Leicester'.

Three ambitious graduates from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are preparing to launch a new kind of newspaper which they say will become a campaigning voice for the city.

Reece Stafferton and Emma Guy studied DMU’s Channel 4 Investigative Journalism MA and were inspired to launch a new Leicester publication – the Great Central Gazette - which is due to go live online in 2023 and later in print.


Emma and Reece say they want to focus on citizen=led journalism

They are joined by Anna Roberts-Finn who graduated from DMU’s Arts and Festivals Management course.

The team says today’s newspapers are out of touch with issues affecting local communities and are more interested in ‘clickbait’ – a tactic in which online readers are enticed to click on a hyperlink via a sensationalized headline to increase a publication’s number of ‘views’.

While a dwindling pool of journalists are left with little time, if any, to meet the community and understand the everyday issues that affect readers.

In response, Reece, Emma and Anna plan to launch a co-operative in which people sign up and pay for a membership and each member has a say in the running of The Gazette.

Reece said: “Journalism is one of the least trusted professions in the country and that’s exacerbated by the fact that five or six major companies dominate local newspapers.

“I don’t think they tell relevant stories about the communities they serve, particularly among under-represented, marginalised and disadvantaged people. As a co-operative, everyone can become a part owner of the business and have a say in how we run.

“We want to focus on citizen-led multimedia and investigative journalism. There isn’t room for online ads, clickbait headlines and obsessive sensationalism at The Gazette. We’re going to do things differently. Only true, reader-funded investigative journalism can make genuine change.”

Emma added: “The primary reason for us launching the Great Central Gazette is that local newspapers don’t appear to go far enough to spark positive change anymore.

“We want to bring the community feel to journalism again. I think most newspapers have lost that personal touch and don’t offer solutions to big issues affecting local people.

“Democratic ownership, we feel, is part of the solution to promote good journalism. Journalism is about storytelling, not how many page views you have had.

“We are starting a newspaper because we love being part of the community. This is a different way of delivering news to the people of Leicester. We want to produce a newspaper where people make time to sit down, have a coffee and read local stories for 30 minutes and be informed.”

The co-operative newspaper business model has proved successful in other large cities such as Bristol, where they have the Bristol Cable, and Manchester, where they have the Manchester Meteor.

Reece, Emma and Anna have already spoken with the Bristol Cable team for guidance.

“We are not trying to replicate what they do in Bristol. Leicester is a different city with different wants and needs, but the Bristol Cable team have offered a lot of advice which we are grateful for,” Emma added.

The Gazette is currently receiving support from Co-operatives UK’s The Hive programme with local co-op development organisation, CASE. Here they have connected with other co-ops up and down the country to learn more about running a not-for-profit newspaper.

On Saturday (3 September) they attended Leicester Pride and later on in the month they plan to launch a crowdfunder, aiming to raise £2,500 in start-up costs.

Early next year The Gazette will make membership available, and ask people to join the co-operative for as little as £2 a month, with the option to contribute more.

Launching a newspaper when the cost of living has skyrocketed is a challenge, but Reece says they are prepared to help lower-income families access quality journalism by applying for free membership, paid for by other members who contribute more than the average.

“People who join the membership will get the very best reporting from The Gazette, with a healthy dose of news, features, interviews, opinions and more. What’s more, you’ll be supporting a new type of journalism,” Reece said.

“Everybody gets a share in the organisation and every decision about our values, and who we are as a community newspaper, will be voted on by the members. It also means all the members are the eyes and ears of the community and will know what is happening in their neighbourhood.

“The Great Central Gazette will be a newspaper written by the community, for the community.”

Reece and Emma say encouragement has come from the academics who ran the Channel 4 Investigative Journalism MA at DMU while they studied there.

Emma said: “Pervez Khan and Richard Danbury (former Associate Professor in Journalism at DMU) were amazing mentors on the course and they are still big supporters of us now.”

Reece added: “For me, studying the course was an incredible experience. With my drama background, I have always been interested in storytelling. I plunged in at the deep end, moving from drama to investigative journalism, but the support was phenomenal.”

If you are interested in helping The Gazette, either as an individual or organisation, email

Posted on Tuesday 6th September 2022

  Search news archive