What we’ve learned - and reported on - in the first month of NationalWorld

Editor Nick Mitchell reflects on a frenetic but fulfilling first month of publishing for NationalWorld

A selection of our 'digital front pages' from April and May

We launched NationalWorld a little over a month ago, but it feels a lot longer.

Not that we haven’t enjoyed the thrill of launching a new brand into the world - it’s just been, well, quite a month.

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With the ‘Super Thursday’ elections this week, there’s no sign of any let-up in May either.

Working from our spare rooms and kitchen tables, the team has put in the hard yards to make sure we cover the biggest stories, and much more besides.

They say journalists are prone to navel-gazing, so allow me to step into character to recap on some of the highlights from the first month of NationalWorld.

Reporting on the issues that matter

From day one, we wanted to take an issue-based approach to our reporting, and in the first month we’ve covered the human stories behind the cladding scandal, we’ve picked apart the government’s ‘levelling up’ narrative on regional inequality, and we’ve highlighted the stress and workload faced by teachers over the rise in assessments.

A special word for our data and investigations editor Harriet Clugston, and her outstanding series on domestic abuse, in which she revealed that hundreds of women end up in hospital every year - yet 20 NHS bodies still don’t have a domestic abuse policy.

On difficult issues, such as the harrowing stories that came out of Everyone’s Invited, we highlighted the stubborn problem of sexism in schools. Following the death of reality TV star Nikki Grahame we looked at how the pandemic has led to an eating disorder crisis – and how the media needs to do better.

This week we’ve dispatched our politics reporter Ethan Shone to Hartlepool, where he’s teamed up with colleagues on our sister title the Hartlepool Mail to get to the heart of the election. Despite inclement weather and WiFi conspiring against him, Ethan’s already filed some punchy interviews with Labour’s candidate and the Northern Independence Party candidate. Look out for his chat with Independent candidate Samantha Lee tomorrow - it may make you drop your marmalade, as they say.

Much more than hard news

As we set out in our editorial values, we also aim to offer you a distraction from the news cycle.

We know how tough the past year has been on everyone, so we go out of our way to find the positive stories, such as the women who traded in their 9-5 jobs for a career helping frontline heroes, or the man who decided to open a hotel one month after the pandemic hit - and somehow succeeded.

Another area we’re looking to develop is our ‘Guides to Life’ series, and topics covered so far include everything from a psychologist’s advice on FODA, or ‘fear of dating again’, to tips for first-time buyers looking to get on the property ladder during the pandemic.

Our Recommended section, edited by Katrina Conaglen, is a great place to find trusted reviews and round-ups, from our favourite electric hybrid bikes to the best books to learn about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Gaming is a cultural genre that often gets overlooked, despite being a multi-billion pound industry, and we’re aiming to change that, whether it’s through championing the unsung heroes who got us through lockdown, or our monthly round-ups of the best games to play.

In Sport, aside from reporting on big stories like the flash-in-the-pan farce that was the Super League, we also like to have some fun, such as Richie Boon’s look at every Premier League manager's drink of choice, or the things Spurs could have done in their 13-year wait for a trophy.

And, like the rest of the nation, we got a bit obsessed with Line of Duty - not least the ‘Tedisms’ that came with it.

What next?

We’re just getting started.

Over the next few months we’ll be launching email newsletters to bring news and analysis direct to your inbox, adding commenting to the website to allow you to have your say, and improving the look and feel of our storytelling through our digital production team, led by James Trembath.

We’ll be producing more video and podcasts, to bring more personality to our coverage, and we’ll be placing an emphasis on our social media communities, because NationalWorld is nothing without you. So please do follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

One thing’s for sure: we won’t be short of stories.