Actor Michael Sheen has called on politicians to extend financial support for hyperlocal news publishers during the current Covid-19 crisis.
And the Hollywood star said he was looking at investing and support ways that create revenue streams local journalism.
The actor and supporter of local news was speaking during a debate entitled What Is News You Can Use organised by Bureau Local.
The debate included BBC gender and identity correspondent Meghan Mohan and Reach plc data journalist Annie Gouk and was the climax of a two-week initiative by the Bureau Local as part of its Change the Story project.
The project’s stated aim has been to ‘reimagine local news in the UK so that it can be more relevant and constructive for under-represented communities.’
Last week saw conversations online under the banner of News You Can Use.Rachel Hamada, Community Organiser for the Bureau explained the thinking behind the project.“If local news is to survive and build public trust, it needs to be collaborative rather than competitive, relevant to the daily lives and concerns of a wider range of people, and useful – in giving people, community groups and the rest of civic society the tools or evidence to hold local decision makers to account.
Sheen said that in 1970 his hometown of Port Talbot in Wales had five local newspapers but he said today there are none based either in the county of Neath Port Talbot or Pembrokeshire.
“In Port Talbot we have no local reporting, so if knowledge is power we’re incredibly powerless here and you can see the ripple effect of that in all kinds of ways.
Sheen, who once played a journalist in the film Frost/Nixon, said he is “looking at investing and support things that create revenue streams for all local journalists”.
“Anyone in Pembrokeshire or the Neath Port Talbot area if you want to dive into this and try to start something up, I will help you,” he added and called on the Government both nationally and in Wales to provide financial support to hyperlocal titles.
The debate can be viewed here: