“Definitely time to go it alone" say journalists as they prepare to launch fortnightly magazine

Miranda Robertson and Karen Bate, Directors, Bird Media Ltd, publisher of The West Dorset Magazine.

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: January 14, 2022 | Updated: 15th January 2022

West Dorset is to get a new free fortnightly community magazine from next month.

Miranda Robertson, who resigned as Editor of The New Blackmore Vale last month, and Karen Bate, until last week the magazine’s News Editor, have teamed up to launch The West Dorset Magazine.

Both are directors of Bird Media Ltd which was incorporated as a limited company on January 5.

They’re each putting £10,000 into the venture together with two unnamed investors who are providing a further £10,000.

The first issue of the fortnightly A4 colour newsprint magazine is due to appear on Friday February 11.

It will initially cover an area including Bridport, Dorchester and Sherborne with 20,000 free copies available from shops and other distribution points.

Apart from Miranda, 49, and Karen, 50, other members of the editorial team are Nick Horton, former Chief Sub-Editor of the Dorset Echo, and Steve Keenan, former Deputy Travel Editor of The Times and Online Travel Editor of The Sunday Times.

Both also previously worked on The New Blackmore Vale which launched in September 2020 after the closure of the Blackmore Vale Magazine (BVM) by Reach plc.

The New Blackmore Vale and sister publication The New Stour & Avon, launched in April 2021, are published by Wiltshire businessman Lloyd Armishaw.

A separate, and unconnected, digital-only publication, The Blackmore Vale, was started by husband and wife team Courtenay and Laura Hitchcock in September 2020.

Miranda, who is Editor of the new publication, said: “The West Dorset Magazine will be everything people love about the old Blackmore Vale Magazine, and what we successfully recreated with The New Blackmore Vale.

“A focus on what people are doing, community news, puzzles and columnists – we know what works.

“There are various other local publications but nothing on the lines we’re planning or covering the same area.

“I really loved the old BVM.

“Even though I have always lived slightly out of the patch it was a treat to pick up a copy.

“Producing The New Blackmore Vale for 15 months made me realise how loved these publications can be if you focus on writing things people really want to read about.

“I got to thinking that West Dorset deserved its own BVM.”

Miranda, who lives in Maiden Newton, paid tribute to Stephanie Pettitt, Managing Director of Poole-based Equation Accounting, who had been “just amazing” in helping to set up Bird Media Ltd.

She added: “Karen and I feel very excited and can’t wait to see our first issue come off the press.”

Karen, who previously worked for Newsquest publications including the Forest Journal and Bournemouth Daily Echo, said: “We want to connect rural communities in an engaging way in print.

“We’ve both worked for people as journalists for decades, and we have well over a century in local journalism experience in our team.

“It’s definitely time to go it alone and produce the sort of magazine we know people love.”

The West Dorset Magazine is looking to appoint an Advertising Sales Manager, with a starting salary of £30,000 and, potentially, a stake in any future profits.

It’s also looking for columnists covering farming, health and beauty, veterinary matters, pets and other topics.

They must be within the magazine’s distribution area.

Anyone interested in the above should contact Miranda at [email protected] for more information.

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