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Six jobs created in bid to begin ‘new era’ for local news

Jonathan Heawood 2022Six new jobs have been created by a new project aimed at helping people around the UK to plan their future local news provision.

The Public Interest News Foundation has teamed up with news aggregator NewsNow for the scheme, which it is claimed will deliver a “new era” for local news.

A pilot project, funded by NewsNow, will see people in Bristol, Folkestone, Glasgow, Manchester, Newry and the Welsh city of Bangor to produce ‘Local News Plans’ for their area.

The plans will set out a vision for the future of public interest news in each area, and will include commitments from stakeholders including local politicians, business leaders, civil society organisations, funders and people with experience of the relevant issues.

The project is being led for the PINF by media consultant Sameer Padania with the help of six paid local ‘stewards’,whose role will be to identify local stakeholders and inviting them to a workshop to create a Local News Plan for their area.

Five of the stewards have already been recruited and while project leaders have not named them, it is understood that “most” of them have a background in journalism.

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

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

PINF and NewsNow hope the pilot project will provide a template that can be launched in other areas.

Struan Bartlett, CEO 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.”