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‘No pop-up ads and clickbait headlines’: New ‘six-figure’ North East news website launches today

Today marks the official launch of The QT, a new digital media platform focused on North East regional news.

The site has received a six-figure investment from angel investors and will be led by a team of experienced journalists. It promises readers high-quality stories and a better user experience, free from obtrusive ads, pop-ups and clickbait headlines.

The start-up was founded by Brian Aitken, who was editor of Newcastle’s The Journal for 12 years. Aitken is joined by former colleagues Sam Wonfor (features editor), Simon Rushworth (associate editor) and David Whetstone (senior writer). They are joined by rising star Sara Jane March. The team will also be supported by some of the region’s leading freelance journalists.

The investment round was led by serial entrepreneur and investor, Fiona Cruickshank, who is chair of the business. It has allowed Aitken to develop the digital platform and build out the core team.

The investment has also allowed The QT to partner with Cultured. North East, the regional arts and culture site. From today, Cultured. North East will formally be part of The QT and will see the site continue to produce in-depth coverage of the region’s arts and culture scene alongside its What’s On listings.

Independent and politically neutral, The QT will offer issue-led campaigning journalism. Its journalists will cover a variety of topics, including regional affairs, business, features and commentary that is free from bias and spin. A new edition of The QT will be published online every Wednesday at noon. The full content will be available to paying subscribers, with a limited number of articles alongside event listings available for free. Subscriptions start from £7.99 a month.

Aitken, who is Editor of The QT, said: “In old newspaper terms, The QT is a quality weekly newspaper that you read online. There’s nothing new about paying for news – hundreds of thousands of people still buy newspapers every day – and our market research showed that there is a gap in the current media landscape for a subscription product that offers quality stories told by quality storytellers.

“In a digital era dominated by pop-up ads and clickbait headlines, we want to offer our readers something of a sanctuary. The QT provides politically neutral, well-rounded journalism that will resonate with the people of the North East.”

The QT, which covers an area from the Borders to Teesside, has already seen hundreds of people sign up before launch. The first edition is published today at 12 noon and will be available for free to all readers.

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