Language campaigners want Corgi Cymru money ‘given back’ to Golwg360
Language campaigners have called for money given to a Welsh language news site that is closing down to be given back to Golwg360.
The Books Council of Wales and Newsquest said they had agreed to end the funding and provision of the Welsh news service Corgi Cymru yesterday.
Corgi Cymru was launched in April this year, and was expected to receive a grant of £100,000 a year over a period of four years, administered by the Books Council of Wales.
The £100,000 received by the news site was half of the grant previously given to the news site Golwg360, leading to staff cuts at the latter Lampeter-based news service.
Now Welsh language campaign group Dyfodol yr Iaith have asked for the money to be given “back” to Golwg360.
In a statement, they said: “It is surprising that Golwg 360 has managed to maintain such a good service after losing half of their funding, but our hope is now that the company can develop their service further by getting back the additional £100,000.”
The Chief Executive of the organisation, Eifion Lloyd Jones, added: “The best way to serve Welsh-speaking Wales is not by spreading the funding too thinly over two different websites that publish the same news, but by giving sufficient funding to the company who have a proven ability to run such a service successfully over a number of years now.
“We believe that Golwg 360 deserves this support to be able to step forward confidently into the future.”
In response, the Books Council of Wales told S4C Newyddion: “The grant for the Welsh Digital News Service is public money and the money will have to be awarded through an open, formal tender process.
“The application process for the money will be published soon and Golwg will be welcome to submit an application.”
Announcing yesterday that Corgi Cymru would close, Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council, said that it was “in the best interest of both parties to discontinue our funding agreement and close the Corgi Cymru digital news service at the end of October”.
“We have been in regular contact with Newsquest over the last few weeks and we are sorry to see Corgi Cymru close, but we do understand that circumstances have changed since the grant was awarded, due to the very challenging current environment,” she said.
“Our thoughts are with the staff who are affected by this decision.”
One full-time and one part-time job are now at risk, and a consultation will take place with affected staff at Newsquest.
Gavin Thompson, Regional Editor at Newsquest, said that they were grateful to the Books Council for their support “which enabled the launch of Corgi Cymru earlier this year”.
“Unfortunately, it became clear that even with Books Council support and given the challenging economic environment, building a new Welsh-language proposition at this time would not be economically sustainable,” he said.
“We have been engaged in constructive discussions over the future of the service in recent weeks, following the closure of The National Wales. We will begin a consultation process with affected staff, starting today.”
The Welsh Books Council will announce the process for re-tendering for the remaining funding of the Welsh Digital News Service grant from 2023 onwards over the next few weeks.
Corgi Cymru was described by Newsquest as a sister site to the National Wales, which also closed down last in August after a year and a half.
The National Wales website was originally set up after a Patreon crowdfunder by digital marketer Huw Marshall under the title of ‘New Media Wales’. He subsequently partnered with Newsquest to launch the site, although Gavin Thompson confirmed that Newsquest had received no money from New Media Wales.
Newsquest later launched the sister Welsh site, Corgi Cymru, with £100k of funding from the Welsh Books Council. Newsquest, a UK-wide company which is a subsidiary of the US-based Gannett Media, also runs the Western Telegraph in Pembrokeshire, and The Leader in Wrexham to the South Wales Argus in Newport.
Delyth Jewell MS, the Chair of the Senedd’s Culture, Communications and Welsh Language Committee, wrote to Newsquest’s Chief Executive and Managing Director in August to ask for a fuller explanation as to why The National Wales was being shut down.
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