Cornwall Reports is a local website serving the needs of its local community in the South-West of the UK. At a time when local journalism has been under increasing pressure, it’s an example of how new models and approaches can emerge in the digital era. They introduced Axate recently and here’s what the founder, Graham Smith, has to say about the experience so far.

Cornwall Reports launched nearly three years ago on a mission to prove that “journalism has value.”

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With no time, or enthusiasm, to sell advertising the website was immediately behind a hard paywall. Cornwall Reports quickly attracted a small, but solid base of local subscribers keen to access quality news – which has a particular emphasis on the traditional values of public sector, democracy-serving investigations.

In February 2019 I became aware of Axate. It was obvious that we share a common interest in building new business models which will support independent journalism for the long-term. It was also clear that with careful pricing the “pay-as-you-go” model could complement the existing subscription model. It works for mobile phone contracts, it works for online TV streaming services, so why not for other media – including local journalism?

One of the most impressive features of Axate is how easy it is to install, with excellent technical support. It was up and running within days.

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In the first three months we’ve seen a steady growth in the numbers of Axate wallet holders. These not only provide a new revenue stream, they allow casual readers to sample Cornwall Reports without making the immediate commitment to a subscription. And one immediate result seems to have been a sharp growth in subscriptions, as “pay-as-you-go” readers covert.

It’s going to be a long march, not a sprint. But Axate has added another layer of stability to revenue – for no cost, and for very little effort on our part.

There is still a question mark over the future of journalism. It is vital that your product should be worth paying for. But it’s always a comfort to find a like-minded pioneer.

Graham Smith
Founder, Cornwall Reports

May 2019