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Ten years of Blog Preston

Posted on - 11th January, 2019 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Preston News
A morning sky in Preston Pic: Tony Worrall
A morning sky in Preston Pic: Tony Worrall

Ten years. That’s been thousands of posts, hundreds of thousands of shares on social media and many phone calls and emails in the making.

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Blog Preston began as a bit of a New Year’s Resolution on 11 January 2009. I was recently out of university, having studied journalism, and wanted to set something up for Preston that provided a digital news service.

The Preston Citizen had recently closed, and there was a gap, so I fired up a WordPress blog and the rest is now modern history.

If you had told me, on that cold January day, that now 50 per cent of the city read Blog Preston at least once-a-month (and many people read it each day!) I would have smiled and said ‘now that would be nice?’.

But it’s happened. In 2018 the eighth most-searched for thing on Google relating to Preston was Blog Preston. Just below ‘preston escorts’ and above ‘jobs in preston’. Now if there’s a badge of honour, it’s to over-take ‘preston escorts’ in 2019!

I’m incredibly proud of everyone who has helped take the site and social media feeds to where they are today.

From live-blogging election counts, being live at crime scenes to the latest on the new openings in the city we have helped to ensure Preston’s finger is kept on the pulse of what’s happening in the city.

What am I most proud of? That we operate in a way that means we can re-invest in community reporting.

The money made from advertising, both from local businesses and from the likes of Google, Facebook (yes, those big scary beasts do help fund local journalism), means we’re able to pay our team of freelance reporters to tell stories across the city.

There’s a few things which stick in my mind as defining moments for Blog Preston.

The first was the Boxing Day floods of December 2015. I barely had chance to get dressed as the rain came down relentlessly, and while East Lancashire was hit harder, it felt as though Blog Preston became the go-to place to see what was happening with river levels and updates from emergency services in and around the city.

Flooding has affected large parts of Preston

We had more than 160,000 views on the site in 48-hours. Someone also put a bleeping fire alarm in a bin in Deepdale Road for good measure on the same day, triggering the bomb squad being called.

Another incident from the same month sticks in my memory too. Out doing my Christmas shopping and I got caught up in the evacuation of the Fishergate Shopping Centre, as what turned out to be a device planted in a toilet led to the bomb squad being called. With pictures from the ever-handy Tony Worrall and connecting to the WiFi at a nearby coffee shop we were able to keep Prestonians right up to date and we are held up as one of the examples by Twitter of live video as we did a live broadcast and interviewed Lancashire Police at the scene before any other media.

I’d like to thank everyone who has every contributed to Blog Preston, from those in 2009/2010 who helped get it off the ground, to those who really helped to push it on in 2013 onwards, and most recently to Rachel, Kate, Olivia, Paul M, Ben and Luke for all of their input as we are read more than 800,000-times-a-month.

I also cannot write this without mentioning the late Paul Swarbrick. He, and Gill Lawson, were a huge help in developing the site and the nostalgia pieces they co-wrote remain some of the most-read pieces of all-time on the site, are a resource for the city but they also were bang up to date. Out and about at events, I will forever be thankful to Paul for everything he did for Blog Preston.

What does the future hold for the site? I hope we can break the 1million views barrier at some point and we continue to be seen as something useful for the city and that contributes to civic life in Preston.

Thanks for the last 10 years Preston, and here’s to many more!

How we need your help on our 10th anniversary

To mark our 10th anniversary we’re launching a fundraising drive for The Foxton Centre, another Preston organisation that’s reached a significant milestone. It’s their 50th year. They do great work supporting the homeless in the city, and many others, so we’d like to ask our readers to donate here.

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