Local news comes of age

It’s official. The hyperlocal news sector has a new representative body.

It’s called the Independent Community News Network and it was launched in Cardiff on Thursday evening.

This is another important milestone in the renaissance of local journalism and should encourage more would-be publishers to follow in the footsteps of those resourceful entrepreneurs who have already set up news websites and newspapers for their communities.

ICNN’s mission statement proclaims: “We exist to promote the interests of community and hyperlocal publishers and to champion new sustainable forms of local digital and print journalism. Our focus is at the local and hyperlocal level; the place where journalism is most valued, but also most at risk.”

Emma Meese, director of ICNN, told delegates at Thursday’s Building the Future of Community Journalismconference that the network was talking to the National Union of Journalists in a bid to gain access to press cards for eligible members.

She praised the enthusiasm, passion and belief shown by the growing army of independent local news publishers and explained how their work was helping to tackle the ‘democratic deficit’ created by the decline of the traditional, mainstream local press. These new community journalists were providing an important service to their communities, she said.

The website Journalism.co.uk reported the launch of ICNN on Friday and quoted Emma at length.

She told the website: “We are aware that we have many challenges ahead of us if we are to get the community and hyperlocal news sector on a level playing field with the more traditional local news sector.

“A number of legislations aimed at local news publishers, such as publishing statutory notices, were created when the local news landscape looked completely different.

“If we are to succeed in getting fair opportunities for our members we will have to look at these issues and fight for fair access for all.”

Read Tim Dixon’s regular blog at www.newscraft.co.uk

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