Welsh Government pledges £200,000 to fund Welsh hyperlocal start-ups

By Matt Abbott | 2nd Oct 2017

The C4CJ welcomes the agreed measures between Plaid Cymru and Labour for the budget 2018-19 / 2019-20, and the commitment to invest in the community and hyperlocal news sector by allocating £200,000 for hyperlocal journalism start-ups.

The C4CJ was among those who presented evidence to the Assembly’s inquiry into News Journalism in Wales, and have been advocating for a public provision for hyperlocal news for many years. This is a big win for the sector.

If done right, this ground-breaking decision has the potential for huge impact in Wales; in particular, in areas of need; filling deficits in public interest news coverage; encouraging citizen cooperation; and experimentation with new technologies and media.

Welsh-Language news is already funded in a similar way by the Welsh Books Council and has had numerous positive effects on the provision of news in Welsh.

The funding is, at the time of writing, still in its incubation phase so there’s a lot of work to be done in shaping the core subsidy: how the fund will be awarded, on what basis, and importantly, how independent it will be from political influence.

There is also the question of whether any of this money will be made available as bridge-funding, to nurture long-standing publications and/or to support growth in areas of outstanding merit.

But this is a constructive and optimistic start from Welsh Government.

News of the announcement will no doubt cause a stir in established newsrooms in Wales.

But it’s worth remembering that huge and historic subsidies (VAT exemption, public notices etc.) are not made available to community and hyperlocal news outlets.

Centre Manager of the C4CJ, Emma Meese said: “We are delighted that funding will be made available for community and hyperlocal news start-ups in Wales.

“It shows that Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Government understand the value this sector brings to communities across Wales.

“This commitment to support small news publishers is vital if we are to stop the decline in local news in its tracks and see a thriving local news sector across Wales instead.

“This is the first step in creating a level playing field for all news publishers and we are excited to see what developments are made as a result of this funding.”

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