Five hyperlocals chosen as Carnegie Partners to improve local news

By Emma Meese | 18th Jul 2013

Carnegie Trust FINAL

By Lauren Pennycook  from Carnegie UK

A new survey of more than 2,000 adults shows that 67% of us rely on our local newspaper for news, while two-thirds of us trust what we read in our local paper over the content in national titles or on mediums such as Facebook. But with job losses, mergers and closures taking place in local newspaper offices across the UK and Ireland, budgets for original news gathering and investigative journalism are reduced, or cut completely.

This leaves a dangerous democratic deficit as the work of local Councils, the NHS and other public services goes unreported and powerful interests are not held to account.

In response to this perfect storm, the Carnegie UK Trust developed Neighbourhood News, a £50,000 competition to improve local news reporting. Through this project the Trust is making £10,000 available to five Carnegie Partner organisations during 2013-14 to develop a local news project in their area.

The Trust received nearly 80 applications from local commercial media and civil society organisations, and with the help of our expert external Advisory Group we selected  Brixton Blog, Cybermoor Ltd, WHALE Arts, YourThurrock, and Port Talbot MagNet here in Wales, as the five Carnegie Partners on this project.

Looking to the future

But why would an operating Trust take an interest in the future of local news and provide direct support to practitioners? The Carnegie UK Trust actually has a long-standing interest in the relationship between the media, civil society and democracy dating back to the 1940s when we supported The Bureau of Current Affairs magazine which provided people across the UK and Ireland with access to information, opinion and educational resources.We are now looking to the future of news provision through Neighbourhood News.

We believe that good quality journalism can be sustainable through improved training, new funding, and additional ownership models. New and evolving funding and ownership structures have a role to play in ensuring greater quality and diversity of news sources and more journalism that holds decision-makers to account. Improved innovation and competition can drive up standards in the sector and create a ‘race to the top’ for local media outlets to achieve the main goal of sustainability.

By evaluating the success of the five Carnegie Partners in improving the provision of local news and addressing the democratic deficit in their areas, the Trust is building an evidence base and a wealth of knowledge to pass on to other policymakers, practitioners and funders who are interested in the future of news media.

We want the legacy of this project to be that the needs and experiences of the Carnegie Partners are reflected in future policies, funding and support to local commercial media and civil society organisations telling their own Neighbourhood News.

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