Defining a hyperlocal: our criteria for membership

By Matt Abbott | 21st May 2018

Defining a hyperlocal

We define a community and hyperlocal news publication as a news service that typically pertains to a specific geographic area such as a town, neighbourhood, village, county or even postcode. They can also be aimed at online communities of interest.

There are multiple ways to define this sector, and publications use many different terms to describe themselves. The defining characteristic for us is that a publication is independent of political, commercial, and religious interests, is community-focused, and producing contemporaneous news content.

We have a relatively broad definition of news that includes breaking news, arts & culture, sports, news features, cultural and community entertainment events, campaigns, weather, transport, crime, local history, local business, and schools.

Publications must uphold high professional standards, including accuracy, transparency, integrity, accountability and fairness. Publications must demonstrate this by having at least six months of active coverage.

Publications which sit on the fringes of this criteria will have their application referred to ICNN’s Professional Standards & Admissions Committee.

Applications from publications representing communities of interest will also be referred to ICNN’s Professional Standards & Admissions Committee.

ICNN reserves the right to refuse and/or revoke membership from any publication that does not meet or ceases to meet the criteria outlined above.

Membership criteria

Membership cannot be granted to publications which are single-issue, or relating to a single topic. This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • • an ongoing political campaign
  • • a specific political party
  • • a specific local issue or campaign
  • • an individual sport or team.

Publications must have a robust and prominently displayed complaints procedure. (Example template can be found here)

Publications must adhere to either Ipso’s Editor’s Code of Practice or the Impress Standards Code and the National Union of Journalists’ Code of Conduct.

Demonstrate a clear and transparent management/ownership structure.

Demonstrate a commitment to producing journalism to high standards – no aggregation sites or ‘churnalism’ setups which cut and paste all content from press releases.

Sites must demonstrate a competent use of grammar and sentence construction.

Publications must be fully inclusive of all ethnicities and backgrounds and be non-discriminatory.


Special thanks to John Baron (West Leeds Dispatch), Fiona Davidson (the ferret) and Keith Magnum (Hackney Citizen) for developing this.

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