‘Press cards would legitimise and add credibility to our work’ say 88 per cent of hyperlocal publishers

By Matt Abbott | 13th Sep 2017

Thanks to all those who took part in our survey: The Case For Union Recognition.

We set out to gather some data and anecdotal evidence on who in the community and hyperlocal news sector had press cards, and who didn’t.

We have spoken to nearly 50 community and hyperlocal journalists, editors, and publishers up and down the country. We wanted to know first hand what their experience was and how, if at all, we could help them.

The results were pretty surprising.

A staggering 88 per cent of community and hyperlocal journalists believe a National Union of Journalist’s press card would be beneficial to the work they do.

Yet, only 19 per cent of those surveyed said they currently had a press card. 89 per cent said they were not a member of the NUJ.

However, the vast majority, 48 per cent, do not currently meet the criteria set out in the NUJ application process, and so are unable to apply for a press card.

The survey, conducted by the newly founded Independent Community News Network (ICNN) showed that press cards would give legitimacy and credibility and increase access for community publishers.

But, according to NUJ application criteria, set out by the UK Press Card Authority, an applicant must be a professional news-gatherer whose employment is ‘wholly or significantly concerned with the gathering, transport or processing of information or images for publication…’

This means that applicants must be earning the majority of their income from journalism.Unfortunately, just 41 per cent of those surveyed said they earned the majority of their income from journalism or journalism-related activities. Eleven percent abstained.

Unfortunately, just 41 per cent of those surveyed said they earned the majority of their income from journalism or journalism-related activities. Eleven percent abstained.

Most hyperlocal news sites are run by passionate and dedicated individuals who run valuable news sites while juggling full-time jobs outside of journalism.

But the fact that journalism isn’t their sole means of income generation means that almost half are not eligible to hold a press card, and so their access is limited.

The community and hyperlocal news sector plays an increasingly important role in the modern media ecosystem.

They are helping to plug gaps left behind by traditional publishers and are supporting the information needs of communities. Many have now become hugely successful businesses in their own right. But the majority are still fighting to keep publishing.

The Independent Community News Network believes that NUJ accreditation and recognition would be a welcome boost to the standing of the community and hyperlocal news sector and provide much-needed support to independent local news publishers across the country.

Thanks again to everyone who took part in this survey.

The Centre for Community Journalism (C4CJ) and The Independent Community News Network (ICNN) fully support the NUJ and the vital work it does for journalism and journalists. And we fully respect the integrity of NUJ membership, the reputation of NUJ press cards, and the authority that issues them.

Now the hard work begins.

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