East Anglia Bylines was created last year as a progressive, citizen led online voice for the East of England, which government defines as six counties: Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
We are independent, but we work closely with eight other regional Bylines sites.
Up to now, our coverage of news and issues has been dominated by only four of the six counties in the region. We have not managed to recruit volunteers from Bedfordshire or Hertfordshire, and our coverage there has been thin.
We are keen to broaden our engagement, and are seeking writers and photographers interested in covering stories in those counties.
Who are we?
All our team are volunteers. None are professional journalists, though some of have a background in writing or publishing of some kind. There is a core editorial team of nine people, but around 100 people have contributed articles and pictures, some only once, some frequently.
Since we launched in July last year, our site has been visited more than half a million times. In a typical week we publish a dozen stories and are working to increase this. We have 8500 followers on Twitter, an active Facebook page, and are just starting out on Mastodon.
A lot of our coverage has been on politics (local and national), ranging from explainers and opinion pieces about big policy issues, to gossip about individual MPs, or local councils. We also frequently write about Brexit and its impact, locally and nationally.
During the next two years, as we approach a general election, there will be interesting stories in all parts of the region. Though the election may be some time away, on current polling, 35 Conservative MPs in the region stand to lose their seats. Eight are in Hertfordshire and 3 in Bedfordshire.
In some constituencies, like Hitchin and Harpenden, and South East Cambridgeshire, the unseating of the Conservative may depend on tactical voting by Labour and LibDem supporters. So local politics will be worth watching.
But we are not only interested in politics. We cover anything we think will be of interest to people in the region. Some are very local, others national or international. We have published a good deal on health, environment, business, culture and history, and we have produced series on rivers, poetry and hymn tunes in the region. Recently, over 3,000 people read a story about archaeology.
How you could help
You may have just one story which you would like to share with people, or you might like to write regularly, or help research local stories with colleagues. Our team will be very happy to help get your story online.
We are always looking for good photographs to illustrate stories, so keen photographers are also welcome. We are also looking for a picture researcher to help us with the time-consuming business of finding the right images.
Not everyone wants to write. We need more editors, and we are also interested in hearing from people who can contribute expertise or inside local knowledge of, for example, business, education or the NHS. When, for example, we have what looks like an interesting story about the NHS, it is very helpful to be able to phone an insider to check the facts.
On the back end, we need help with our social media accounts or, if you have knowledge of WordPress and are willing to help with uploading our articles to our website, we’d love to hear from you.
If you would like to help in any way, we would love to hear from you. Please email [email protected] and we will be in touch.