Cumbernauld Media is 4 years old

Written by Scott Campbell. Scott Campbell
Published at 21:12 on 25 April 2014.
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Cumbernauld Media launched in 2010 as 'Cumbernauldnl.info'. Picture: Cumbernauld News.
 




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IT WAS at around this time back in 2010 that I left high school. I had had enough of the school’s “restrictive” curriculum and “tightening” of the school’s so-called ‘golden rules’. I put those words in quotes as when I reflect back on my decision back then I see things in a different light; perhaps the curriculum wasn’t as narrow as I thought back then; perhaps the rules only seemed “tightened” after five years in the same building. Regardless, my decision to leave was perhaps one of the best I have ever made.

All I remember of my last day at high school was sitting in Hall A; the canteen hall reserved by those of use in sixth year to use during our free time. I was sitting with a group of friends when it suddenly hit me – “What am I doing here?” I immediately went to reception and asked for a ‘leaver’s form’; I was sent on a man hunt to track down my teachers and get them to sign my form.

My history teacher – who I only met on that one occasion, was supportive; he remarked that my decision would lead to “plenty of days lazing around, and sleeping in” – he wasn’t exactly wrong. My ‘guidance’ counsellor, ‘house tutor’ or ‘academic adviser’, depending on your perspective, seemed sad to see me go, as well as my Modern Studies teacher, who told me “I had a space all set up for your in the Advanced Higher class as well”. With the signature of my Modern Studies teacher on paper, I only needed the head of my year to put pen to paper and release me from the bonds of high school.

Ironically, I found her in Hall A; I had finished where I started. I took my form to the reception desk and the woman on the counter simply looked up at me, said “Leaving us are you?” I said “yes”; she said, “I’m sorry to see you go, but good luck”. I left the campus and walked home.

The reaction when I arrived home was sombre. They didn’t share my enthusiasm. I was greeted with looks of surprise – they were aghast to find me home so early in the afternoon; I told them, “I’ve left high school”; “what are you going to do now?” I was asked. “Look for a job”, I foolishly replied. I don’t think they believed me at first, but eventually the message set in – I was out of education and officially unemployed. 

Day one was perhaps the worst day. I awoke at half past six in the morning, ready to get ready and head off to another dull, dreary day at high school; only saved by the glimmer of hope provided by Modern Studies, my favourite subject. Instead, however, I was a free agent; I went back to bed, and woke up again and noon, still with nothing to do – the boredom eventually settled in, but I was still loving being off. That euphoria of having nothing to do eventually drove me crazy.

Only two weeks into being off high school, I was out of ideas, out of available friends to meet up with, and out of pocket; I had to find something to occupy my time in between the job applications which never seemed to even merit a response from the businesses which I had took such a lot of care, time and money to contact. Cumbernauld Media was born!

Back then, it was known as Cumbernauldnl.info. I had purchased the domain on November 5th 2010; it cost me exactly $2.17. I couldn’t get anything simpler, such as ‘cumbernauld.com’, either because they were already taken or out of my price range – it was unemployed after all. Still, I managed to get ‘www.cumbernauldnl.info’; a purchase made on the hoof, which summed up my website perfectly, regardless.

Website for Cumbernauld, in North Lanarkshire, held on an information service. That was what went through my mind – Cumbernauldnl.info it was.

The website received about fifty views in its first week – most of which were probably mine. The one factor which could possibly change the site’s fortunes was promotion. So, eager to get the website promoted I got in touch with STV Cumbernauld; a hyper-local website for Cumbernauld – similar to mines, and the Cumbernauld News.

If I had known about STV Cumbernauld, incidentally, I wouldn’t have launched my website. But, nonetheless, I contacted their then editor in chief, Alison McCallum, and sent out a press release to the Cumbernauld News.

On November 9th 2010, I e-mailed out the press release, under the title, ‘A New Site Launched Today To Put Cumbernauld In A Positive Light’. 

The original press release read: 

"Scott Cambell (16) from Kildrum has launched a new site (www.cumbernauldnl.info) to get the community to come together to make Cumbernauld better, and promote the town for its true beauty- not bad shops or false stereotypes. The site offers numerous features such as movie, tv and book reviews to event planning, free advertising, jobs and real people's views- all contributed by the public.
 
Commenting, Scott Campbell said
 
"I have wanted to do something ike this for a while. Providing Cumbernauldnl.info allows Cumbernauld's people to communicate and share ideas and views, as well as showing the world that Cumbernauld is a better place than they see on tv.
 
Cumbernauld is a lovely town. People just have to find its beauty. From walks, to nature trails to facilities like community centres, sports facilities and the theatre. I believe Cumbernauld has everything it needs- except the people to use them.
 
Cumbernauldnl.info raises awareness of places like this and I am proud to say that I am doing such a thing for my town.
 
But I couldn't have done it without a good friend who runs www.cumbernauldwhatsitcalled.co.uk.
 
I would love to get more people involved and I encourage them to take a few minutes to look at my site. Which they can find at www.cumbernauldnl.info."

It wasn’t half bad for somebody who had never put a press release together in his life. The reaction wasn’t half bad either. 

The Cumbernauld News got in touch in the days after the press release landed in their e-mail inbox; they were very interested in the story, and the reasons behind my website. I spent nearly forty-five minutes on the phone with a journalist over at Tay Walk. 

The story never made the next edition, on the 17th November 2010. Instead, it was published in the paper on November 24th, 2010; it made the paper’s front page, and was called the “wonder website” – probably because people were wondering what the heck it was for, but still – it was promotion. 

That same day, the Facebook likes started to creep up from single digits to double digits; by the end of November 24th 2010 my Facebook page had about 24 likes, the figure which stubbornly remained stagnant in the weeks ahead. Still, the website was starting to pull in readers. 

I upgraded the pages, added new business directories and asked John; a friend of mine to write up book and film reviews, to which he kindly agreed. I would then write a blog, meanwhile, while the public at large were to send in their content – well, that’s what I hoped for – it never really happened. Instead, the website struggled along; the Facebook likes and Twitter follows then started to trickle in, and the “wonder website” started to struggle towards 100 Facebook likes and a three digit readership for its first few weeks. 

The website limped in 2011, when a surprise e-mail in January would serve to take the website from amateur blog to slightly respectable to its current position. I hope I’m not coming off as too melodramatic, but an e-mail from Cumbernauld’s Bill Henry really did plot the course for the future of Cumbernauldnl.info. 

Bill, a former press photographer, got in touch with me on January 12th, 2011. He offered to help with the “photographic side” of the operation, and my response to his kind offer has been remarked to many a person whom we interviewed. I replied by saying that there was “no funds”, and so I couldn’t afford to pay him. What followed was an arrangement for a meeting. 

We met in Cumbernauld Town Centre, and headed off to our first ever story; potholes at Cumbernauld train station. Bill took pictures of the potholes on the road at the train station, and accompanying pavements in Greenrigg Road. 

After that day, Bill kindly offered his services. We went along to numerous stories in the next few years; stories such as my interview with Jamie Hepburn MSP, Gregg McClymont MP, Cllr Tom Curley – who was then the Provost of North Lanarkshire Council, and many more people, from people wanting to inspire change to sad stories such as the Wilderness Brae crash. 

As I said, I hope I don’t come off as being melodramatic, but it was because of Bill that the website improved. I was never gifted in my verbal skills, nor was I William Shakespeare when it came to vocabulary. I had never had any form of training to be a journalist; in fact, I felt that as the website improved, with a catalogue of images, kindly taken by Bill, I had to ‘up my game’; my writing style had to improve. I couldn’t allow Bill’s expertise to be let down by me. The website was again updated, and I took a different tact to writing stories, and conducting interviews; Bill had changed my writing style – he changed it so much that the skills are transferred onto my academic studies today. 

Eventually, I moved the website to Wordpress, from Google, and tried to build upon the previous successes of the website. I renamed the website ‘Cumbernauld Online’, but reverted to Cumbernauldnl.info shortly thereafter, as ‘Cumbernauld Online’ was never warmed to by readers; moving back to Google Sites, in late 2011, the website was again rebranded – Cumbernauld Media was the new name. 

With a new name, Cumbernauld Media became focused much more on news content delivery, in addition to opinion pieces, town information and photographs. The format had been laid down for what the website remains to be today. 

Another two websites were launched from late 2011; both completely altered the aesthetics of the website, made it up more welcoming, and gave Cumbernauld Media a much more professional website. Cumbernauld Media’s current website went online late last year, and incorporates much more content than any of the older websites. 

Nowadays, Cumbernauld Media earns thousands of views per week, from thousands of readers, who visit Cumbernauld Media from all over the world. Previously described as “beige”, the website is now the opposite, offering a unique mix of business, community, crime, education entertainment, environment, health, opinion, political, sport, transport and weird news stories, alongside a whole host of local information, web-links, places to visit and historical details. 

It’s been a five year journey to get to here, and I am proud that my once “wonder website” is now so popular, with media contacts across Scotland, and a story count of over 1,000. I owe a lot of thanks to people such as Allan Murdoch, John Flannagan, Bill Henry, and everybody who has contributed pieces over the past few years, because without these people, Cumbernauld Media would not only be as popular as it is now, but it might not even  exist – imagine a nightmare worse than that! 

Five years ago I started this website without any ideas as to the heights it would reach. Now, a couple of work experience placements, a college course, and many interviews in between down the line, Cumbernauld Media is going strong. Thank you to all of you lovely readers for joining us, and thank you if you have been there from the start. 

Here’s to the next four years…! 

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