A Local News Fund for Newry
Sameer Padania announces PINF's plans for a local news fund in Northern Ireland, following up on last year's Local News Plans and with funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
Photo credit: Columba O'Hare
It’s hard to believe it has been a year since we held our Local News Plan meeting in Newry, Northern Ireland, attended by a whopping 36 people representing institutions and sectors from across the community. I’m still struck by how passionately and knowledgeably those people spoke about the role and function of journalism in their community, just like their counterparts in Bangor, Bristol, Folkestone, Glasgow and Manchester.
One of the biggest challenges for local news organisations across the UK is that resources put into local news often ‘evaporate’ out of the community to companies based elsewhere. Local advertisers may, for example, choose to spend their budgets on Google or Facebook ads, rather than with local media.
Meanwhile, local news providers continue to serve their communities, often on a shoe-string, resorting to credit cards, loans or donations from friends and family to keep their reporting afloat - in effect, providing a subsidy, an information subsidy, to the community.
As our report on the pilot phase of the Local News Plans initiative, Media Wealth-Building, notes, one of the key aspirations of stakeholders in Newry and in the other five locations was to establish an “independent fund for local news”.
So we’re delighted to announce that - with a grant from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Voice, Influence and Partnership fund - we’ll be establishing the Local News Fund for Newry with an inaugural start-up investment of £15,000.
We’re already in active discussion with other funders and businesses to match and multiply those resources, and we welcome conversations from others interested in contributing. We’re also looking for someone based within easy travelling distance from Newry (which could include Belfast and Dublin) to work with me as Project Coordinator.
The Fund will be co-designed with community members, drawing on the work done by Dr Debs Grayson and others, over the first 3 months of 2024, with the intention of launching in April 2024. We’ll announce further details on progress in early January.
We hope this will turn out to be just the first of many such Local News Funds across the UK - providing locally-raised, -managed and -governed resources to locally-registered and -focused independent media - and we’d love to hear from anyone who would like to get involved in realising that vision.
Sameer Padania, director of the public interest consultancy Macroscope, is leading the Local News Plans initiative for PINF.
If you're interested in the Project Coordinator role, please send a CV and brief cover letter to email@example.com.
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