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Hyperlocals issue warning over regional press public health campaign

Hyperlocal publishers have warned a new public health campaign being run via the regional press will “not reach many communities” because its members are not involved.

The Independent Community News Network has called for more small and medium-sized independent news organisations to be included in the three-month advertising partnership which will provide information about the coronavirus pandemic.

The ‘All in, all together’ campaign’s launch on Friday saw national and regional dailies run the same cover wrap, while it will also be published by weekly titles this week.

While the ICNN described the campaign as a “welcome response” from the government, it says it “will simply not reach many communities across the UK”.

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In a statement, the hyperlocal trade body said: “Collectively, members of ICNN reach over 5m people online each month and over half a million in print. This makes us the fourth largest news publishing organisation in the UK.

“Our members are the true frontline key workers in this industry who are keeping communities afloat with genuine, accurate and important information during this pandemic.

“Sadly, they are also the ones most at risk from the current crisis. The impact of COVID-19 on our member organisations could have a catastrophic impact on public health across the UK. If they are unable to continue reporting, due to lack of government intervention, entire communities will lose access to their only source of local news and information.

“So far, ICNN and other independent news organisations have been excluded from the government’s public health campaign. This means they have excluded communities too.

“It is critical for public health that independent community news organisations continue to give essential, verified and useful information to the communities they serve. Any public health campaign that does not include our members (who need relatively very little to survive) is insufficient and is a dereliction of the government’s duty to communities at this time.”

ICNN added it had been in regular discussions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for the last few weeks.

It has received statements of support from 10 MPs who have hyperlocal publications operating in their constiuencies.

The statement concluded: “It is time for the government to finally recognise the enormous value and vital role of independent community news publishers.”

A government spokeswoman said: “The ‘All in, all together’ campaign is a way of delivering important government communications on coronavirus across people’s favourite and most- trusted media titles.

“We recognise the vital role that media organisations, including local newspapers, play in ensuring the provision of reliable, high-quality information during this time. We also understand the acute pressures newspapers are facing financially due to the steep drop in advertising revenues and the implications of the lockdown on print circulation.”

You can read all our coronavirus-related stories here.

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  • April 21, 2020 at 9:46 am

    “It is time for the government to finally recognise the enormous value and vital role of independent community news publishers.”
    Independent hyper locals have the markets, they live, breathe and are the voice of their communities and they have the audience the main groups no longer reach, they must be supported in any way they can to enable them to continue.
    They are the future of hyper regional news provision.

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