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April 4, 2023

Small news, big news

As circulation numbers for national newspapers continue to dwindle, it seems that hyper-local news is on a very different trajectory. The independent community press serves a different purpose, reinforces local identity and aims to share the kind of  information and news that only means something to the local population. Usually run by volunteers and always on a shoestring, that lack of resource is often not reflected in the quality of finished product or the creativity involved. At last year’s UK wide Creative Lives awards, The Newstead News serving the tiny Borders village (circulation 350) scooped Scotland’s runner up prize.

Creative Lives

Newstead is a small village located in the Borders, one of the most rurally remote regions of Scotland. It’s set on the banks of the River Tweed, in the shadow of the magical Eildon Hills.

During the early stages of the pandemic, Lisa Cowan volunteered her years of experience in the media and community development, to set up the Newstead News. Initially a small flyer, the publication has since grown. Published three times a year, the Newstead News is now a full-colour magazine delivered free to every home in the village.

Newstead has a population of just 350 people. With no pub or shop to help connect the community, the publication has become an important link. Over eight issues since 2020, the Newstead News has featured stories written by more than 35 individuals, with photographs captured from nearly 30. This includes children and young people who are encouraged to participate, along with older residents. Wider contributions to the publication have been made by even more members of the community and over 100 people have been involved so far.

The Newstead News covers everything from village issues and events, to local wildlife, films and science. The editorial direction is entirely led by the community. The publication offers residents and supporters of the village opportunities to become published writers and photographers. It’s become a runaway success achieved on no more than approximately £70 of funding each issue.

“Everyone has the chance to be creative, irrespective of age, background or skill,” says Lisa. “Between the pages of the Newstead News, there’s room for the whole community.”