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Introducing: The Lead North

Lead Editor (North) and Senior Editor (North) join to launch new newsletters and coverage for The Lead in Blackpool, Bolton, Stoke-on-Trent and Teesside.


December 06 2023, 06.00am

The Lead’s mission is to bring a spotlight to the sharp edges of lives in the UK. We want our readers to engage constructively with issues like poverty, racism, climate change, corruption, and our healthcare.

Update: We are now live in Blackpool, Bolton, Stoke-on-Trent and Teesside

Our next step forward is to speak directly to more of our proud, distinctive - and often overlooked - cities and towns across the UK, delivering our campaigning journalism into the heart of these communities. We want to start by focusing on the north.

We are thrilled to announce that over the coming months we will launch the first set of locally focused newsletters in Blackpool, Bolton, Teesside and Stoke-on-Trent. These northern titles, The Blackpool Lead, The Bolton Lead, The Teesside Lead and The Stoke-on-Trent Lead will bring readers points of debate, agitation and celebration in the way that we have on a UK-wide level. These new titles will also be complemented by print editions.

We know that some of our subscribers already live and work in these areas - and we welcome your insight and contributions as we set out on this exciting new phase. We will be dropping into your inbox soon about this.

As you know, The Lead spotlights issues that deeply impact communities across the UK, sometimes in ways that are unique to specific areas. This is our opportunity to engage with these issues in a new way, raising awareness and constructive dialogue from a local perspective, that can then be cascaded nationally. 

To make this happen, we have appointed a Lead Editor (North) Ed Walker, and Senior Editor (North), Luke Beardsworth. They are welcoming pitches and contributions from a diverse range of freelance writers and journalists who best represent these areas. We look forward to working collaboratively and constructively with local voices and news sources that are already established and providing valuable coverage in the area.

Ed Walker, Lead Editor (North), said: “Local journalism is vitally important for communities and it is evident from the scale of local digital audiences that local outlets currently enjoy the appetite for discovering what’s happening locally is very much alive.

“However, it’s not just about telling stories. We believe there’s an opportunity for communities locally to be enabled and connected by journalism and that as journalists and editors it’s also our responsibility to empower people.

“That’s why we’ll be taking The Lead to Blackpool, Stoke-on-Trent, Teesside and Bolton in the coming months and bringing our brand of local journalism to towns and cities often overlooked outside of London and the major metropolises of the North of England and we are also looking to work with existing local journalists and outlets to help embolden their local digital storytelling too.”

Senior Editor (National) with The Lead, Natalie Morris, said: “As a Mancunian with a background in local journalism, I’m delighted and proud that The Lead is extending its focus to include the rich variety of communities and perspectives from the North of England. Established  media is still far too London-centric, and widening this narrow lens is a crucial step in ensuring the stories we cover are more accurately representative of the nation as a whole.” 

Story tips and pitches can be made by contacting [email protected]

You can sign up below to receive The Lead's newsletters for either Stoke-on-Trent, Blackpool, Teesside or Bolton.


You can also follow dedicated Facebook pages in each place - The Blackpool Lead, The Stoke-on-Trent Lead, The Bolton Lead and The Teesside Lead.

The team

Ed Walker is the founder of hyperlocal news site Blog Preston and the former editor-in-chief of In Your Area. He was on the team that launched the PNE Big Sleep Out in 2019 and raised over £100,000 for The Foxton Centre, a local homeless charity and also led InYourArea to the best social good campaign in 2022’s AOP Awards for the Cash for Connectivity campaign. Alongside campaigning, his writing on Preston has appeared in The Guardian. He held a number of roles at Reach plc, editing local titles including GetReading and the Chester Chronicle and was described as a ‘key part’ of its digital transformation during his nearly 15 years working in local and regional digital media. You can email [email protected]

Luke Beardsworth was the launch editor for LancsLive and has served as an editor at Blog Preston. He has worked with titles such as the Hull Daily Mail, Tamworth Herald, Burton Mail and others. Alongside this, he has a culture-focused background, editing the volunteer-led Ark Preston and later serving as social media editor for influential online music magazine DrownedInSound. He has also worked with key charities across Lancashire to raise funds for the most vulnerable in the area. You can email [email protected]