The trade body for hyperlocal titles has launched a campaign calling for urgent support for its members amid the coronavirus crisis.
The Independent Community News Network has said that hyperlocals will be ‘out of business within weeks’ if financial support is not provided. The organisation has also called for the hyperlocal industry to have a share of public health advertising and for its members to be recognised as key workers and allowed to carry on reporting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Emma Meese, Director of the Network said: “Many of our members are the only news publishers in their areas, some covering entire counties and cities. If these publishers are forced to close, the UK will be left with many more news black holes which we will struggle to fill again.
“This is a time when our members are crucial in ensuring public information reaches communities across the UK to inform and advise about public health.
“We fear that, unless we can secure some emergency funding to support small news publishers at this time, communities across the UK will lose their independent press at a time when they need it most.
“It is critical for public health that these publications continue to give essential, verified and useful information to the communities they serve.”
The majority of the hyperlocal titles that the ICNN represents rely on local businesses advertising Meese said. That advertising has almost disappeared overnight as businesses are forced to stop trading.
She added: “We cannot stress enough how a little funding will go a very long way with our members. The amount is very small – we are basically talking about covering individual salaries in some cases, to keep an entire publication going. None of the money will go to shareholders or to cover large overheads.”