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Hyperlocals win thousands as government reveals ‘urgent’ cash boost

Emma Meese 1Hyperlocal news titles are set to receive thousands of pounds of “urgent” government funding.

Welsh members of the Independent Community News Network (ICNN) will each receive a one-off £5,000 grant to help them continue to deliver news to their communities.

The cash boost is being provided by the Welsh Government, which previously gave hyperlocals in Wales an £8,500 emergency grant in April.

My Newtown, My Welshpool,,, Inksplott, Cwmbran Life, Llanelli Online and the Caerphilly Observer will all benefit from the latest round of funding.

David Williams, editor of My Welshpool and My Newtown, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has shown just how crucial the hyperlocal news industry has become for providing reliable news and the latest information for communities across Wales.

“I would like to thank the First Minister for not only listening but recognising our importance and providing this vital support so that we can continue to play our part in keeping our communities safe.”

Richard Gurner, editor and publisher of Caerphilly Observer, added: “This latest grant support for the independent sector in Wales has come at just the right time for us, with advertising revenue still affected by coronavirus restrictions placed on local businesses.

“The Welsh Government is leading the way in its support for titles like ours – something that is severely lacking in other parts of the UK.”

According to a letter sent out to all eligible publications, the purpose of the funding is “to support the sustainability, development and growth of [independent community publications based in Wales] – those that are independent community-focussed productions that produce contemporary news content”.

Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said: “Hyperlocal media provide a vital service to communities the length and breadth of Wales and I’m pleased we are able to provide this crucial support to help the sector through what continues to be an incredibly difficult time.

“Hyperlocals deserve recognition for how they have served their communities, especially this past year, and this funding will enable them to continue to do just that.”

ICNN has been lobbying Westminster for financial support for its members since the start of the pandemic, but to date, only one publication has received support.

In Scotland, members are gearing up to run the third advertising campaign in partnership with the Scottish Government.

This will run for two weeks from March 1st and will focus on the FACTS campaign: Face coverings, Avoid crowds, Clean hands, Two metres, Self-isolate.

ICNN director Emma Meese, pictured, said: “We are enormously grateful to the Welsh Government for their ongoing support and championing of our sector.

“Quality and reputable journalism has never been more in need and acknowledging that, by providing this urgent and necessary funding, 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.”

You can read all our coronavirus-related stories here.