Jaldeep Katwala gives an update on the vibrant community of indie news providers PINF has facilitated since last year, and announces our new Indie Skill Share programme.
In the face of a prevailing sense of pessimism within the United Kingdom's journalism landscape, particularly marked by redundancies among larger regional publishers, a beacon of optimism emerges from the indie news publishing sector. As the industry welcomes a new year, the resolution to address challenges head-on is evident.
We're delighted with the growth of the indie news WhatsApp group we launched in September, which has proven to be a valuable forum for indie news publishers. The community has 84 members who’ve posted more than 2,300 times.
What initially began as a space for networking and idea-sharing has matured into a platform where publishers engage in substantive discussions about the real hurdles they encounter. We’ve had illuminating chats about, for example, the logistics of publication printing and strategies for enhancing the appeal of council news. Ideas like these underscore the pragmatic nature of these discussions.
At the Indie News Forum in Bristol last October, industry leaders talked about effective ways for the sector to share skills. This led to the development of a series of formal sessions by PINF. These sessions, scheduled throughout the year, aim to convene experts from within the group and externally to delve into crucial topics such as attracting new subscribers, writing funding applications, and volunteer training.
The proactive approach has organically extended beyond pre-planned sessions. The WhatsApp group has become an agile platform where publishers spontaneously address pressing issues.
A recent session on creating TikTok videos, led by Daniel Jae Webb, who has a substantial following on the platform, is worth noting. Daniel generously shared his expertise, and since then multiple publishers have produced their first TikTok videos which they shared with the group and on which they received constructive and helpful feedback. This then led to another session on improving your voice for recorded clips.
This exchange of insights and expertise underscores the vitality present within the independent news publishing sector. While these publishers confront challenges similar to the broader industry, their proactive stance and commitment to finding innovative solutions set them apart. The Public Interest News Foundation takes pride in its role as a facilitator in supporting them.
We need to measure the pulse of the sector and that’s a nudge to complete this year’s Index survey, which you can do here.
The premise is straightforward – the more informed PINF is, the more effectively we can support the sector.
Journalism changes all the time, but the resilience, energy, and collaborative spirit evident among indie news publishers stand as a testament to their enduring commitment to overcoming challenges. Forums, scheduled sessions, and spontaneous discussions collectively serve to reshape the narrative of UK journalism.
My New Year’s resolution? Watch, listen and learn from the independent news sector and respond to its needs.
Jaldeep Katwala is Network Manager at PINF.