Six months of NationalWorld: taking stock and looking ahead
A look back at the first six months of NationalWorld from editor Nick Mitchell - and a look ahead to what’s next
It is six months since we launched NationalWorld, and somehow this period feels like both six days and six years.
On the one hand it’s been a blur in terms of what the team has achieved in that time - devising publishing plans, adapting to new workflows, chopping and changing as we learned what our audience wants from us, making technical improvements behind the scenes and producing over 7,000 stories, hundreds of videos and several new podcasts.
On the other hand it feels like a very long time, given what’s happened in the world since April: the vaccine rolled out; Prince Philip died; the European Super League crashed and burned; the nation voted in several elections; people went on holiday at last, despite much confusion; Matt Hancock slinked off; there was more penalty heartbreak for England; Wally the Walrus kept us guessing where he’d pop up next; lockdown ended; Afghanistan descended into turmoil; energy prices spiked; petrol stations ran dry; Sarah Everard’s killer was sentenced and some men said stupid things about the issue of women’s safety.
It has been a whirlwind.
But to mark this arbitrary landmark in NationalWorld’s journey, I wanted to take stock on our progress so far, by reflecting on the key points from the mission statement we published on day one.
“We want to start a conversation about devolution and the distribution of power, jobs and culture across the regions of the UK, and we will expose inequalities where we find them.”
There is always more to be done here, but I would argue that no news title in the UK has done as much over the past six months as NationalWorld on this front.
We have exposed the productivity gap across the UK, we revealed the regional disparity in Covid deaths since ‘Freedom Day’, we have reported on how the cladding scandal has affected people up and down the country, we have highlighted how London and Edinburgh hoover up arts funding, and during Tokyo 2020 we showed how some areas are deprived of basic swimming pool facilities. This week we disclosed how the North has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
These are all important stories which demonstrate how much more needs to be done on ‘levelling up’.
“We will hold power to account… Instead of merely reporting on what politicians say in briefings, we will assess the impact of their decisions on the country”
This is of course the fundamental job of all journalists, but too often our trade is guilty of merely acting as a mouthpiece for politicians.
We have a strong investigative focus in our team, and we allow our reporters the time to work on in-depth projects when they get the scent of a story.
Some highlights of this approach have included Ethan Shone’s revelation that Theresa May called for international travel to resume after receiving hospitality from Heathrow worth £67k, or Aimee Stanton’s analysis that showed a huge drop in prosecutions of companies for environmental crime, or her story that GPs are still prescribing thousands of banned homeopathic treatments, or Harriet Clugston’s scoop last week that care homes in England are about to be hit with a shortage of 40,000 staff due to the new mandatory vaccine rule.
We also aim to highlight cases where politicians, authorities or other media outlets publish misleading information, such as when The Guardian got its data wrong on the proportion of rapes resulting in charges, or just this past weekend, when both Boris Johnson and Andrew Marr got their facts wrong on wages.
We keep many press and freedom of information officers across the UK on their toes to ensure you get the information you have a right to know.
This month we will publish the results of another major investigation that the reporting team has been working on for several months.
“We will publish honest and frank opinion pieces - but these will have ideas, rather than negativity or point-scoring, at their core.”
This is an area we’re going to develop over the next few months, but I believe we’ve held true to our original purpose.
Following Wayne Couzens’s sentencing last week, for example, former Chief Constable Susannah Fish wrote a must-read column on what policing needs to do to overcome its misogyny problem.
Politics reporter Ethan Shone has offered great insight on the empty rhetoric of ‘levelling up’ or Keir Starmer’s electability, Rochelle Barrand shared her take on fast fashion, Chelsea Rocks wrote passionately about eating disorders, Amana Walker has a knack for turning news events into useful life lessons and sports writer Jason Jones has penned some brilliantly funny and passionate columns, but it was his angry broadside in the wake of the racism that blighted England’s Euro 2020 exit that sticks in the memory.
“We’ll offer distractions too… We will aim to entertain as well as inform”
It’s been a tough year-and-a-half, and while the last six months have seen us start to put lockdowns behind us, we’ve all needed some distractions along the way.
This is what drives our specialists in culture and lifestyle, and it’s something we want to do a lot more of.
Whether it’s our regular guides of what to watch on TV, travel features on the weirdest weekend breaks in the UK, our new Reset Room podcast on finding fulfilment, long-reads on Britain’s lost shipwrecks or our brilliant Recommended section with expert product reviews, we want to be much more than a news site.
Of course, we want to keep growing, but we want to do this by producing more quality journalism on the topics you’re coming to NationalWorld for.
We’ll be doing more investigations, more fact-checkers, more data analysis, more features and more original reporting. We’ll be producing more original video and podcasts.
We’ll launch more newsletters with insightful and witty commentary on the subjects that matter to you - and give you more incentives to become a registered user.
We’ll keep improving the website, and add new storytelling features along the way.
As for the next six months of news? That’s anyone’s guess, but you can be sure we’ll report and explain it.
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our email newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.