Thousands of pounds of government funding has been secured to help hyperlocal news titles during the coronavirus pandemic.
Welsh members of the Independent Community News Network have today been awarded emergency grant revenue funding of up to £8,500 by the Welsh government in a bid to help sustain them over the coming months.
The announcement by Welsh government minister Ken Skates, pictured, has prompted the Independent Community News Network to call on Westminster to follow Cardiff’s lead in offering funding to hyperlocals across the country.
ICNN director Emma Meese said: “We are delighted that Welsh government has acknowledged the value ICNN members bring to the communities they serve.
“I’d like to thank Ken Skates AC/AM for his continued commitment and support of the sector and for offering financial support to help our members survive the current crisis.
“Quality and reputable journalism has never been more in need and acknowledging that, by saying these news publications are vitally important in helping overcome the virus, is a huge boost for the independent news sector.
“We now call on the UK government to follow Welsh government’s excellent lead, all independent publishers across the UK need government support if they are to continue serving their communities in their hour of need.”
Graham Breeze, editor of My Welshpool and My Newtown, said: “This is amazing news for the hyperlocal sector and the money will go a massive way to protecting the independent community news networks in Wales at this extremely difficult time for us all.
“At My Welshpool and My Newtown revenues will virtually dry up over the next month or so leaving us unable to pay the dedicated team of staff who have been keeping Mid Wales informed around the clock with up-to-date news for the last 10 years. This grant is a lifeline for us.”
Richard Gurner, editor of the Caerphilly Observer, added: “This funding is a welcome boost at a very precarious time for the independent media sector in Wales, and I would like to thank the Welsh government for cutting through the red tape to make it happen.
“I’d also like to thank ICNN for all of their efforts in making this possible and also Caerphilly’s Assembly Member Hefin David, who raised this issue with First Minister Mark Drakeford in the Senedd.”
Mr Skates, Welsh minister for economy, transport and North Wales, said in a letter to the successful recipients: “The hyper-local journalism sector provides an important local source of public interest news, especially at this difficult time when communities need it most.
“I am aware that the sector is facing unprecedented times and the Covid-19 crisis could have devastating effects on the sector and the provision of independent community news.
Grant recipients have been asked to continue sharing direct links to channels of information and guidance on business support to help the joint effort to support businesses and the third sector in Wales .