Over the summer, we began to pilot regular coverage of the Fingal County Council area. 

Until recently, the Dublin Inquirer covered mostly the Dublin City Council area. But we’re testing this expansion of our reporting to north Dublin for seven months – seeing if we can provide enough stories of value that people subscribe to keep the coverage going.

We’re still going to be covering the Dublin City Council area, as we have done since 2015. It’s just that each edition of the paper will have stories from Fingal as well.

So we’ll be publishing more stories online each Wednesday than we have in the past. And we’ve expanded our monthly print edition from 40 pages to 48 pages.

We decided to add this Fingal coverage because it looked to us like there was demand for it. 

Industry group Local Ireland told the Future of Media Commission that over the past decade 16 paid-for weekly newspapers across Ireland have closed, and that the average local newspaper now employs half the staff it did in 2000.

When the Fingal Independent ceased publication in 2022, it left something of a  gap in local coverage in Fingal. We hope to fill this – albeit with our own approach to coverage and a different funding model, as we don’t sell ads. 

We know there is some coverage of Fingal, and some great community publications. Just as in the city, we’ll be working hard to make sure that what we offer is different, and that we tell stories that wouldn’t otherwise be told.

Our pilot is grant-funded for seven months by the JournalismFund’s Local Media for Democracy scheme. But the idea is to make it funded by readers going forward, just as our coverage of Dublin city is. In short, we have seven months to try to prove we are worth keeping around.

We’ve got a growing number of stories in the Fingal subsection on their website and print issues. Our reporters will be bringing stories from within communities, and watching over council meetings to make sure people in Fingal know what is being debated by their local representatives.

We also plan to run some focus groups over the coming months, to invite people to come and tell us what they want from a local newspaper, so we can make sure our coverage is responsive and engaging.

Our first is planned for 13 October at 7pm at The Warehouse in Balbriggan. If you’d like to join us for that, check out the details here.

In the meantime, if you have suggestions and tips for things we should look into, please do send me an email to lois@dublininquirer.com. And if you’d like to get our weekly Fingal newsletter, with our latest articles, you can sign up here.

We are conscious that we don’t yet have the contacts to ensure first dibs on cosmic events like the appearance of the Portmarnock Crater. But with your help, we hope we’ll get there.

Lois Kapila is Dublin Inquirer's editor and general-assignment reporter. Want to share a comment or a tip with her? Send an email to her at lois@dublininquirer.com.

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