2023 has been an exciting year for the Cable! We’ve broken explosive stories, welcomed a bunch of new faces to the team, and after a tough few years of pandemic and cost-of-living struggles, even managed to grow the co-op significantly with a city-wide membership campaign.
Hopefully, you’ll have witnessed the best parts of the Cable’s year as you’ve encountered us around the city. But if not, here’s our year in stats:
- Citations in Parliament: 2
- Citations by Bristol City Councillors: 1
- Future of Media Awards nominations: 1
- Orwell Prize for Journalism nominations: 1
- Independent Newspaper of the Year runner-up prizes: 1
- Money raised for Barton House residents: £13,372 (so far!)
Growing the co-op
- New members: 340
- Patron members: 7
- Membership income increase: £19,700/year
- Number of existing members who’ve increased their contributions so far: 378
“The state of mainstream journalism is dire. I’m keen to support a bunch of people who possess a moral compass.”– New member testimonial, 2023
If you want to help improve these stats, and you’re already a member of the Cable co-op, you can increase your contribution by logging in. If you’d like to become a member, visit thebristolcable.org/join. Help us fund proper journalism for Bristol!
What we’ve produced:
- Major investigations published: 10
- Articles, podcasts, and Cable community updates published: 243
- Newsletters sent: 114
- Print editions: 4
- Speaker Series events: 4
- Sold-out events: 3
- Social media posts: 2,698
Now – statistics are all well and good, but my colleagues have produced some phenomenal work this year, and I want to tell you about it in more detail!
Shining a light inside Bristol’s justice system (August)
For example, Priyanka Raval wrote a double feature on how Bristol’s justice system deals with sexual assault charges. The feature began with one survivor’s journey through the system, demonstrating how, even with a conviction, the process can take a significant toll on the survivor. Prosecutions are at an all-time low nationally, and this important investigation gave a sober, and considerate look at a human story that gives deep insight into why that is.
The second part of the investigation outlined Avon & Somerset Police’s pilot project of Operation Bluestone, a groundbreaking initiative to increase rape prosecutions – that has seen some success. One survivors’ organisation described Priyanka’s work as “insightful, interesting, and shocking”:
Mouldy homes rebuilt from scratch (June)
Alex Turner’s reporting on housing built by insurance company Legal & General turned from a simple report on delays at a new Lockleaze development into a hugely revelatory series that led from Bristol to Yorkshire. Problems with how the factory-built modular homes were stored led to some being riddled with mould before they were even finished, while defects with foundations led to the scheme in Bristol being dismantled and restarted from scratch.
Prospective residents were furious with poor communications from L&G, a household name that millions trust with their pensions. After the company pulled the plug on the entire project citing financial difficulties, Alex wrote up the story of where the schemes had gone wrong for Inside Housing magazine.
Cable reporting influences Council action on housing (January)
This year, Bristol City Council’s Living Rent Commission concluded, resulting in a request to the government for new powers to introduce rent controls and a formal commitment to a raft of other measures to tackle the “increased power imbalance between tenants and landlords”. The Cable played a role in this process: one of the motion’s recommendations is to introduce a public database of enforcement notices given to landlords who break the rules if the government doesn’t bring in a national landlord register.
It was a year ago that Matty Edwards reported on London’s Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker and asked if it could make a difference in Bristol’s rental market. A database would mean greater transparency when landlords have been prosecuted for breaking the law, allowing tenants to see if their current or prospective landlord has been up to no good.
Green councillor Tom Hathway, who brought the motion, acknowledged our reporting had inspired their decision to commit to a ‘landlord checker’ database in Bristol:
“The Cable highlighted the success of a rogue landlord database in London, and actions in the motion now include reviewing enforcement policy and maintaining a public database of enforcement against rogue landlords in Bristol if the government’s proposed landlord portal doesn’t materialise.”
Exposing rogue landlords for misconduct (February)
There was only one court reporter at both trials of notorious rogue landlord (and yacht owner) Thomas Flight this year: our very own Sean Morrison.
Sean stuck with the story when the other news outlets had moved on, leading him to uncover many more testimonies from victims who weren’t a part of the trials, and revealing that despite being found guilty and fined for trading standards violations, Flight is still operating as a landlord in the Airbnb market.
And of course, the always excellent Bristol Unpacked podcast from Neil Maggs (16 episodes this year!) has seen interviews with Watershed CEO Clare Reddington, prosecuted Kill the Bill activist Jasmine York, Babassa CEO Poku Osei, and ketamine therapy pioneer Dr Ben Sessa, among many others. We’re always grateful for Neil’s consistently fair and rigorous interview skill, and for bringing a truly diverse group of guests to the Cable’s airwaves.
A huge thanks also to George Colwey of Esion Noise, who has produced these and our other podcasts, and contributed a huge amount to our new multimedia strategy. We’ll be officially launching our new audio offering in the new year!
There are many more examples of amazing work by the Cable in 2023, but these stories in particular are real demonstrations of the Cable’s uniqueness as a local investigative paper, and as shown by the impact we had with the rogue landlord database, how our sustained campaigning journalism has a real effect on the quality of life of people in Bristol.
Looking to 2024…
Next year will be the Cable’s tenth anniversary! We’re looking ahead to the next ten years with hope and determination.
We’ve got some exciting plans in the works, but if you have any suggestions of what you’d like to see from us in our tenth year, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll see you at our next Speaker Series event with Gary Younge, on Jan 25th. Happy New Year everyone!