KentOnline


KentOnline is one of the country’s most successful regional news sites, with research by Press Gazette illustrating the depth of engagement it shares with readers.

Analysis revealed readers spend an average of 18 minutes on the site, more than twice as many as the second-placed news brand. KentOnline is also the most profitable product in the Iliffe Media Group portfolio, with paid content deals with Google and Facebook complementing growing subscription and commercial revenue. The past year has seen KOL continuing to evolve, with the launch of an advert-free version of the site for subscribers and, in a UK-first, functionality that sees all stories automatically converted into audio articles using AI. The engagement levels are vindication of an editorial policy that sees a focus on detailed, in-depth reporting that is not afraid to challenge the establishment - and even its own readers. Whilst breaking news will always be our bread and butter, we are increasingly focusing on going behind the headlines. Our motto is Making Sense of Kent - and that’s what we set out to do for our readers every day. Our first submission, ‘27 asylum seekers drowned and I laughed’, tackled the terrible response from some of our Facebook readers when dozens of people lost their lives trying to cross the Channel to safety. Our decision to directly confront these comments and challenge readers’ reaction had a huge impact. The story itself generated many hundreds of thousands of page views and was followed up by publications both at home, in Europe and the United States. It led to appearances on Radio 4, Radio 5, BBC News 24 and the Islam Channel. Our second submission, ‘Life on an abandoned luxury housing estate’ demonstrates that even in a digital age, knocking on doors can make a huge difference. It transformed what could have been a humdrum planning story into a fascinating look at the people living on a luxury estate in Medway when the developers behind the scheme went bust. Our final submission demonstrates the time and effort we are prepared to put into stories. The article, the tragic story of a man found dead in a school field, took almost two years of digging in the face of the refusal by police to release any details of the victim. We thought it was completely wrong that a man’s passing could be virtually erased from history, and were determined to tell his story. We eventually tracked down and spoke to his family in Lithuania, giving a name and story to a man who would otherwise have been a faceless statistic. The above is just a small example of what we do at KentOnline. Our podcasts have been streamed well over a million times in a few months, our partnership with the University of Kent on KMTV gives us industry-leading video content and we have a raft of new ideas ready to unveil in the new year. We also hope we can show that digital journalism can still go hand-in-hand with quality reporting.