The Journalism Foundation’s first British project launches in Stoke

A new era for local journalism is ushered in today when the acclaimed political website Pits n Pots launches its new look in Stoke-on-Trent. This project is the first in the UK to be supported by The Journalism Foundation as part of the Foundation’s commitment to promoting free and independent journalism both in the UK and around the world.

Alongside the relaunch of the website, The Journalism Foundation will publish a free toolkit on how to build your own local website, which will contain practical advice from academics and journalists for people inspired to make a difference to their local community.

Next month the Foundation will help produce a print edition of the online publication, which will be distributed throughout households in Stoke to widen Pits n Pots’s audience.

The Journalism Foundation will host a party tonight in Stoke to celebrate the relaunch of Pits n Pots.

In a bold initiative, Pits n Pots was launched in September 2008 to fill the gap left by decreasing sales of local papers and dwindling coverage of local politics. The site was devised as a public service whose intention was to keep the public engaged with the politics of the area by creating a forum in which people could discuss local issues and the governance of Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Pits n Pots has broken stories which have made the national press. In February 2009 the website published a story about the BNP’s use of WWII imagery for their campaign paraphernalia featuring a Spitfire from a Polish squadron. The article was picked up around the country. Journalists working for the site also interviewed Opposition leader Ed Miliband, covered an EDL rally in Stoke live, and mounted challenging questions to the Stoke council about waste management strategy and other issues.

The Journalism Foundation is working in partnership with Pits n Pots, to redesign the site in a bid to boost reader engagement, increase traffic and promote democratic engagement in the local community. The site has been redesigned by The Independent’s head designer Nick Donaldson, making it more user-friendly with a greater social media presence. The new site will be maximized for use across tablets, smartphones and other digital devices. It has enhanced commenting features which connect easily with social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, allowing users to share their conversations on important issues in Stoke with friends and colleagues.

Simon Kelner said

We’re delighted to support the relaunch of Pits n Pots, a website which we feel fulfills an important function in the political life of Stoke on Trent. The redesigned site will, we hope, increase the reach and relevance of Pits n Pots to the people of the area. Websites such as this are proliferating throughout the country, helping to increase engagement in local politics and demonstrating that journalism is a fundamental part of democracy.

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