An entrepreneurial journalist who honed her craft as a community news reporter has celebrated a milestone moment for the independent local news website she co-founded.
Carly-May Kavanagh, 26, launched The Brighton Seagull in January 2022 with her partner Adam Englebright and is thrilled that the site now boasts 1,000 newsletter sign-ups.
Editor-in-chief Carly-May, and Adam, the site’s political editor, founded the Seagull because they were “dissatisfied” with the news offering in the market and wanted to target young, politically-engaged professionals.
They trialled the Seagull during the Brighton Fringe festival in 2021 before launching it six months later.
She said: “We spent a long time talking about what we wanted it to look like and working out what we wanted stories to be.
“So we decided what we really cared about was making it people-focused, relevant to our readers and fully researched.
“It was not the easiest, but it is worth the effort it takes. There have been a lot of very late nights!”
The small team of three staff journalists – including deputy editor Owen Baxter-Jones – publish three times a week with a news briefing on Mondays, a long-read on Wednesdays and entertainment or events recommendations on Fridays.
A recent story which performed well was about Trousers the pet cockerel, who may have to be taken away from his family’s home over complaints about his crowing.
Carly-May said: “We do a big story that people can do something about.
“Quite a good example is Trousers the cockerel being evicted because there’s a petition about it.”
The Seagull operates a subscription model with options increasing in £5 increments from free up to £15 a month.
Reflecting on the reception of the Seagull, Carly-May said: “We have had so many people tell us they didn’t read newspapers before, at all, and now they read The Brighton Seagull every time we publish.”
Carly-May previously studied politics and international relations at the University of Southampton, before achieving her NCTJ Diploma in Journalism on the fast-track course at Brighton Journalist Works.
She then joined the Mid Sussex Times through the Community News Project (CNP) – a partnership between the NCTJ, Meta and regional news publishers to support the coverage of underserved communities and improve the diversity of UK newsrooms.
As a community news reporter, Carly-May also studied for her National Qualification in Journalism with Bournemouth University.
After two years in the newsroom, she then moved on to be a policy casework officer for Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Brighton and Kemptown’s MP.
Carly-May said her journalism background and time as a community news reporter were crucial in helping her secure the job.
“There was so much researching for briefs, interviewing people, taking complex ideas and arguments and being able to distil that down,” she said.
However, Carly-May was soon drawn back to the world of local news to set up the Seagull.
She said: “We want to be approachable and friendly and not too serious and stuffy – although we have covered some incredibly serious stories that we are not going to be cracking jokes about – but we want to come across as approachable.”
Read The Brighton Seagull here.