Page last updated at 08:45 GMT, Sunday, 9 May 2010 09:45 UK

Rebecca magazine's web relaunch as subscription website

Paddy French, editor of Rebecca
Paddy French first launched the magazine in 1973

An investigative magazine, first published in Wales in the 1970s, has been relaunched on the internet.

Rebecca, which ran between 1973 and 1982, has styled itself as "Britain's first investigative website".

Combining video reports with written articles, the site will operate on a subscription basis with readers being charged £1.50 to access content.

"I think people will be prepared to pay for good and powerful journalism," said editor Paddy French.

Mr French, 60, who recently took early retirement from ITV Wales where he worked as a current affairs producer, started work on the original Rebecca as a 23-year-old, a year before its launch.

The "radical" magazine took its name from the Rebecca Riots which took place in west Wales during the rural depression in the late 1830s and 1840s.

I think people will be prepared to pay for good and powerful journalism
Paddy French, editor

Among its most high profile campaigns the magazine investigated freemasons in Wales and probed the activities of prominent politicians.

In another campaign a number of councillors and businessmen named in Rebecca investigations received prison sentences for corruption.

Though circulation peaked at 17,000, the magazine closed in 1982.

"I always planned to finish my career doing Rebecca, which is where it started," said Mr French.

"I'm happy to have some of the old readers back, and anybody who is interested in the sort of articles we print in Rebecca. It usually finds its own audience."

For the last 10 years journalists have been giving away their content and people are not in the habit of paying for online journalism
University of Glamorgan lecturer James Stewart

With regard to the subscription element of his website, Mr French said: "For me content is king. I want to write the kind of articles I want to write and obviously I think there's an audience.

"I think people will be prepared to pay for good and powerful journalism."

The newly-relaunched site investigates what it regards as failures of Britain's biggest child abuse inquiry - the Waterhouse Tribunal of 1997.

Also under the spotlight is Rhondda Cynon Taf's Dragon International Studios, dubbed 'Valleywood' at its launch in 2001, which collapsed in March 2008 owing £15m.

James Stewart, journalism lecturer at the University of Glamorgan, said the return of Rebecca as a subscription website was "an interesting initiative".

In-depth journalism

"It's very interesting that Rebecca is going to ask its readers to pay a subscription at a time when the whole question of subscription is being looked at," said Mr Stewart.

"For the last 10 years journalists have been giving away their content and people are not in the habit of paying for online journalism.

"However, Rebecca may well argue that its content is unique and that people who are interested in in-depth investigative journalism will pay for it, and that £1.50 is not a lot to pay."



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