Welsh Hyperlocals set to benefit from WAG funding

INDEPENDENT community news publishers in Wales are set to benefit from a £200,000 fund from the Welsh Assembly Government, which is aimed at helping the existing hyperlocal news outlets in Wales.

Llanelli Online along with other hyperlocals submitted evidence to the the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, in 2017.

We also lobbied Llanelli’s AM Lee Waters, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr’s MP Jonathan Edwards and the leader of Plaid Cymru Adam Price.

We were also involved in discussions with the  chair of the committee Bethan Sayed AM who offered a lot of help and support at the time.

‘Independent community news publishers in Wales have today been provided with a £200,000 boost that promises to have a great impact on local journalism, local enterprise and social cohesion across the country’ writes Matt Abbott on the Independent Community News Network’s website 

Matt Abbott writes: The announcement follows the findings of the independent Hyper-local Journalism in Wales Report, which was co-written by Cardiff University School of Journalism, Media and Culture’s Centre for Community Journalism (C4CJ), and will look to support publications that are independent of political, commercial, and religious interests; are community-focused and produce contemporary news content.

Grant funding will be made available to eligible Welsh-based print and online publications who are members of the Independent Community News Network (ICNN), run by C4CJ.

Director of the ICNN Emma Meese praised the government on its commitment to hyperlocal news.

She said: “This is a major step forward in recognising the invaluable work of community journalists across Wales. Investing in this sector could have a great impact on local journalism, local enterprise and social cohesion.

“We are delighted to be working with Welsh Government to ensure the Independent Community Journalism Fund rewards innovation in the sector and is accessible to those which are most deserving in order to help the sustainability, development and growth of their publication.

“We are also immensely proud of the impact our work has made, and that ICNN membership has been recognised as a trust mark of quality journalism.”

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The fund was established after the publication of the ‘Read All About it’ report by the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, in 2017.

The inquiry looked into the state of local journalism in Wales and found it wanting. It recommended formal support of independent community and public interest journalism in Wales as a strategic priority.

ICNN was launched in January 2018 and currently represents 105 independent community news publications in the UK; 12 in Wales.

The grant funding is available from 1 April 2019 for one year and is additional to the existing support for businesses through Business Wales.

Economy Minister Ken Skates said:

“We live in a world of unprecedented exposure to news and information, with hyper-local media expected to evolve and stay current, often with very little financial or human resource.

“These are small businesses, generally employing fewer than four people, but that provide a vital local service to communities the length and breadth of Wales.

“This new funding will build on our commitment to supporting journalists seeking to set up their own business in hyper-local news and will, I hope, through the further development of skills and networks help to sustain and grow the sector, allowing existing hyper-local journalists to broaden their scope and reach within their communities.

“These are important services which deserve our recognition and support and I’m delighted, today, to be able to do just that.”

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