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Completing our 5k - and closing in on a record
An editor's note from Joshi
Dear Millers — I hope you’ve had a great weekend. If it was a lovely summer evening outside I would probably not be sitting in my living room writing this editor’s note, but here we are. Ever since we published a long read explaining to the haters that Manchester isn’t actually one of the rainiest places in the UK, it has rained more or less non-stop, making for perhaps the worst July on record. “Rain, rain, rain... starting to feel a bit down,” one Didsbury-dweller posted on the Manchester Reddit page this weekend, prompting dozens of supportive responses. “Let’s hope August will be a better month… because before we know it, it will be winter again,” said one person, although the forecast for this week doesn’t look overly promising.
Another very popular Reddit post this weekend, prompting more than 100 replies, was one about Daniel’s weekend read yesterday. Thanks to whoever shared it there, and to all of you who have tweeted it out and left replies. “This article by @djstimms in @ManchesterMill is so good I wish I'd written it,” one person tweeted. “Looks at the issue from multiple perspectives, uses data intelligently and really undercovers what's been going on in Manchester over the last decade without sensationalism. Brilliant!”
The piece set out to explore the complex question of who has actually benefited from the extraordinary economic boom we’ve seen in Manchester in recent years, and on balance, Daniel comes to a hopeful conclusion. He finds that the growth we have seen doesn’t seem to be narrowly benefiting the property industry and excluding lower-income people in the way that many of us probably feared or suspected.
We will of course return to this subject in future as new data becomes available, but the piece is exactly the kind of journalism I want The Mill to be doing and it capped a great month for us, one of our best ever. In fact, if we can add just 12 more members this evening and tomorrow, it will be our best-ever month of subscriber growth. We’re currently on 188 new members for the month, and if we hit 200 that will be our record. If you’re not a member already and you want to give the whole team a big boost, please do jump on board now.
This week we passed 5,000 paying members across The Mill, The Tribune and The Post — those latter two are our excellent sister publications in Sheffield and Liverpool, if you haven’t come across them yet. 5,000 is a stunning number after three years of doing this, and it shows pretty definitively that there is a serious appetite for high-quality, thoughtful journalism and great writing in the North. Which is what I suspected before I started out on this amazing journey a few years ago, but of course you never know until it actually happens.
This whole venture was a slightly eccentric leap of faith for me — a chance to put some of my ideas about what I thought needed to change in journalism into practice. When I started The Mill in June 2020, I had massively enjoyed my decade working in the media — including a spell as a young staff writer at the Evening Standard and lots of freelance work for newspapers like The Guardian and The Times. But as many of you will have felt about your own industries, I also thought there were things that needed to change.
I didn’t like how Opinion-heavy the British media was — endless fairly predictable comment pieces, often with headlines designed to stir the pot on social media. I didn’t think there was enough journalism that embraced nuance and respected the intelligence of readers enough to let them make their own minds up rather than telling them what to think. I felt our media was too obsessed with celebrity stories (x TV presenter has said y vaguely controversial thing) and could use more stories that tell you how things actually work and where the power lies in society. And just as importantly, I thought there was more room for American magazine-style narrative reporting that transports readers to places they know little about or takes them on mental journeys that bring them joy and escape.
I could talk for all of this Sunday evening about these things, and those of you who came to our recent Mill Members Club with Julie Hesmondhalgh will have heard me do so. But for now, I’ll finish by thanking the thousands of you who have helped our very small team to achieve what we have so far. That piece Daniel wrote yesterday — not to mention Thursday’s report by Mollie and Jack about the “disorder” in the city centre, or the astonishing long read by Ella, Libby and Maisie about their experience as students in Manchester during the pandemic — are all examples of how those ideas I had about journalism are coming to life. They are giving vivid and brilliant expression to the vague plans I set out with in June 2020, when this company was just me writing pieces for a very tiny audience.
Huge thanks to all of our members — not just the 2,375 who subscribe to The Mill but also our members in Sheffield and Liverpool, who will one day be heroically memorialised as the first 5,000 who got on board, the ones you saw the potential of this new kind of local journalism and backed it.
Regular Millers: If you’d like to join them and help make July a record month for us, please hit that lovely pink button below. It won’t make up for the rain, but you’ll be creating a ray of sunshine in our newsroom and in the otherwise gloomy world of local news.
Thanks — Joshi