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  • Writer's pictureSameer Padania

The Local News Fund: Empowering Newry's Journalism Ecosystem

Sameer Padania announces the Local News Fund for Newry, a response to the existential threat that economic pressures and digital transformations have brought to local news outlets.

Local news is a lifeline for communities, connecting individuals, and fostering active citizenship.

Yet, in the face of economic challenges and evolving media landscapes, sustaining local journalism has become increasingly difficult. Today, we're excited to introduce the UK's inaugural Local News Fund in Newry, Northern Ireland, spearheaded by PINF, as our latest initiative to help communities take the future of local news into their own hands. This came out of the Local News Plans project we ran in 2022 and 2023.

Why Local News Matters

Local news isn't just about headlines; it's the pulse of our communities. From social change to everyday occurrences, local journalism keeps us informed, engaged, and connected. However, in recent years, economic pressures and digital transformations have threatened the existence of local news outlets worldwide, leaving communities underserved and disconnected.

The Local News Fund: Breaking New Ground

The Local News Fund is our response to this crisis. Co-designed with input from community members, businesses, and organisations, this initiative aims to bolster Newry's local news ecosystem by providing financial support to diverse local news outlets and aspiring journalists.

How the Fund Operates

  1. Who is the Fund for? The Fund targets two primary beneficiaries:

    1. Local news outlets: Print, digital, audio, video or otherwise, aiming to enhance their business operations and sustainability, whether singly or in partnership. Applicants must be members of IMPRESS, IPSO, ICNN or similar industry or professional bodies with clear ethical codes.

    2. Young journalists (<25) from Newry and surrounding areas, facilitating pathways into local journalism in Newry either with an idea of their own, or to part-subsidise them to work with an existing local outlet

  2. Funding and Structure: Thanks to a generous donation from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Public Interest News Foundation is ready to start making grants from the £15,000 fund. Additional funding, however, ideally at least £35,000, will allow us to partner with the Community Foundation Northern Ireland, amplifying the Newry Fund’s impact across NI as a whole.

  3. Community Engagement: At the heart of the Local News Fund lies community input and governance. Three community members will join the grants decision-making panel, ensuring that local voices guide our efforts. Transparency and accountability are non-negotiables, with regular updates and community involvement in the fund's evolution.

  4. Application Process: Applications open on May 27th, with a simple eligibility check and short idea description. The deadline for initial applications is June 7th, followed by a detailed application stage ending on June 21st. The PINF team will assess applications based on set criteria, shortlist candidates, support them to develop a final proposal (which they will own) and convene the grants panel for final decisions.

  5. Grant Allocation: Anticipating quality applications, we expect to allocate the full £15,000 in this round. Grants, ranging from £3,000 to £6,000, will be awarded based on project merit and impact potential.

Get Involved

The success of the Local News Fund hinges on community support. Here's how you can contribute:

  • Donate: Support local journalism and young talent in Newry by donating to the Local News Fund.

  • Offer nenefits: Extend advertising support, joint fundraising opportunities, or discounts to shortlisted applicants.

  • Engage: Volunteer as a grants panel member or participate in the Fund's governance.

  • Spread the word: Share information about the Fund with young people and journalists in and around Newry.

The launch of the UK’s first Local News Fund in Newry marks a pivotal moment in our commitment to nurturing our collective journalism ecosystem. With your support, we're confident that local news will survive and thrive for the near future and for future generations, contributing to the resilience and vibrancy of our communities, in Newry, and, we hope, far beyond.

Sameer Padania is Project Director for the Local News Funds.

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