Friday January 27th 2023
The cross-party Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee hearing evidence.
The Public Interest News Foundation (PINF) has welcomed the cross-party Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee’s report on the sustainability of local news, which was released this week, and calls on the Government to adopt its recommendations as a matter of urgency.
The report sets out in stark terms the threats facing local news in the United Kingdom and outlines several steps the Government must take to ensure that local news providers can continue informing and engaging their communities. These include establishing a public interest news fund, facilitating philanthropic funding to local news publishers, and ensuring that forthcoming digital markets legislation will allow smaller publishers of local news to reach fair commercial relationships with tech giants like Google and Meta.
Jonathan Heawood, Executive Director of PINF, said: ‘We are thrilled that the committee has recognised the immense value that local news brings to democracy. We are particularly glad to see the committee’s acknowledgement of the crucial role played by small, independent news publishers. These publishers must be fairly remunerated by the big tech platforms if they are to thrive in the digital economy. They must also be able to access public funding and philanthropic support as the committee recommends.’
The report follows the committee’s inquiry into the state of local news in the UK. PINF made a detailed submission to the inquiry and coordinated further submissions from independent publishers through the ‘News for All’ campaign, which is calling on the government to establish a public interest news fund; to ensure that small publishers are fairly remunerated by big tech platforms; and to create new tax incentives for public interest news. All three recommendations have been endorsed by the committee.
Independent local news providers also welcomed the Committee’s recommendations.
Phil Bowen, editor of Midlothian View, said: ‘There are lots of small, independent and innovative hyperlocals, like Midlothian View, across the UK that are covering local news and making a great job of it whilst operating on a shoestring. It would not take too much of a diversion of Government advertising at a local, Scottish and UK level to really make a difference to these publishers. They have comparatively low overheads so a slice of the advertising pie would quickly put them in a sustainable position from which they could grow the depth of coverage of local news that readers enjoy.’
David Floyd of Social Spider CIC, which publishes community newspapers in North and Central London, said: ‘Across the UK, corporate newspaper groups receive millions of pounds of public funding through local and central government advertising, whilst independent local publishers are left out in the cold. The Committee is right to say that this funding should be audited and allocated fairly across the sector.’
Eliz Mizon of the Bristol Cable said: ‘We know that our journalism has a positive impact, but we’re a small organisation with limited resources. If there was a public interest news fund to support organisations like the Bristol Cable, we could do so much more for the people of Bristol and beyond.’
Joshi Herrmann of The Mill in Manchester said: ‘I’m glad that the Committee has acknowledged the innovative models of news publishing that are going on across the independent sector. With a dedicated fund for innovation, we could see many more start-up publications like The Mill.’
Rhiannon Davies of Greater Govanhill in Glasgow said: ‘The Select Committee is echoing the recommendations of the Scottish Public Interest Journalism Working Group. Now it’s time for action to support truly local journalism in all parts of the UK.’
Richard Gurner of the Caerphilly Observer said: ‘Independent local publishers are playing a vital role in communities across the UK. We need a fair share of funding so that we can compete on a level playing field with corporate publishers.’
Una Murphy of VIEWDigital said: ‘We rely on philanthropic support to provide our community-centred news coverage in Northern Ireland, and we welcome anything that encourages philanthropists to support local news, as recommended by the Committee.’
If you would like to support Midlothian View you can do so HERE.
You can read the full report DCMS – Sustainability of local journalism HERE.Tweet Share on Facebook