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Project aimed at reversing local news ‘turmoil’ begins work

Jonathan Heawood 2022A project aimed at reversing “turmoil” in local news provision has begun its work in six areas across the country.

The Public Interest News Foundation and NewsNow have started hosting Local News Plan Workshops as part of their joint bid to forge a path for the future of public interest news in communities around the UK.

HTFP reported in September how the project, funded by NewsNow, would help people in Bristol, Folkestone, Glasgow, Manchester, Newry and the Welsh city of Bangor to produce ‘Local News Plans’ for their area.

Six paid local ‘steward’ roles have been created to aid the project, although further details about who they are have not yet been revealed.

Workshops have already been held to get the plans off the ground in Folkestone and Glasgow, with further such meetings to take place in the other four areas during November.

PINF executive director Jonathan Heawood, pictured, said: “Local news in the UK is in a state of turmoil. Legacy newspaper publishers are under huge pressure, and emerging providers are struggling to compete for attention with social media.

“By working in these very different locations across the UK, we aim to support a new era in local news that truly serves communities.”

The six resulting plans will be hosted on a dedicated website, and lessons from the project will be shared with policymakers and philanthropists.

PINF and NewsNow expect an outcome of the project to be a Local News Plan template that can be replicated and adapted elsewhere.

Struan Bartlett, chief executive of NewsNow, said: “We are delighted to be working with PINF on this important project.

“We know a healthy society needs a healthy news diet, yet when it comes to local news it sometimes feels like we’re on starvation rations.

“Sustainably funded public interest journalism is vital for healthy local democracies.

“Rather than parachuting in money or solutions, we believe that by getting people on the ground to talk to each other, communities can work out for themselves what they want from local news and how best to incentivise and support local providers to deliver it.”