The Carnegie UK Trust has published a report calling on the government to offer a package of support measures to help the UK’s emerging hyperlocal news sector to flourish and grow.
Among the suggestions in the report are allowing local authorities to spend some of their statutory advertising budgets through such sites.
The report, entitled ‘The Future’s Bright, the Future’s Local.’ also calls on the BBC and other local news organisations to build stronger relationships with hyperlocal news providers.
Douglas White, head of advocacy at the Carnegie UK Trust, said: “With four in ten adults in the UK now using online sources for local news, the traditional business model for delivering local news is under extreme pressure, and there are fewer journalists working in our communities even as we move towards greater devolution of power.
“However, despite digital hyperlocal news providers addressing news gaps and democratic deficits in many areas across the UK, their coverage across communities remains patchy. They are also not eligible for much of the public support currently available to UK local media.”
Over the last two years, the Trust has been working with five local news organisations across the UK as part of its ‘Neighbourhood News’ project.
Douglas added: “There are nearly 500 active hyperlocal news websites across the UK.
“They fulfil the traditional function of local news providers which governments, regulators and funders support; they just deliver it differently.
“There is an opportunity for governments and funders to open up current and new financial support programmes to develop local news which hold decision-makers to account and connect our communities.”
The full report can be downloaded here.