The Welsh government has announced thousands of pounds in support for struggling Welsh hyperlocals amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement comes in the wake of calls by the Independent Community News Network (ICNN) for urgent support for its UK members amid falling advertising revenues and disruption to distribution methods.
Welsh members of the ICNN have now been given emergency grant revenue funding of up to £8,500 by the Welsh government in a bid to help sustain them over the coming months.
The titles benefitting from the grant include the Caerphilly Observer, Cwmbran Life, Inksplott, My Welshpool, My Newtown, Wrexham.com, Deeside.com and Llanelli Online.
In a letter to grantees, the Minister for Economy, Transport and north Wales, Ken Skates AM stressed the importance of independent community news publications as being vital in helping overcome the coronavirus.
He said: “The hyper-local journalism sector provides an important local source of public interest news, especially at this difficult time when communities need it most.
“I am aware that the sector is facing unprecedented times and the Covid-19 crisis could have devastating effects on the sector and the provision of independent community news.
“We are absolutely committed to providing the support and assurance of the business community needs.
“I have now approved emergency grant revenue funding of up to £8,500 to support [eligible publications] through the next few months.”
Emma Meese, Director of ICNN welcomed the announcement and called on the UK government to follow in the Welsh government’s footsteps and announce support for other struggling titles.
She said: “We are delighted that Welsh Government has acknowledged the value ICNN members bring to the communities they serve.
“I’d like to thank Ken Skates AC/AM for his continued commitment and support of the sector and for offering financial support to help our members survive the current crisis.
“Quality and reputable journalism has never been more in need and acknowledging that, by saying these news publications are vitally important in helping overcome the virus, is a huge boost for the independent news sector.
“We now call on the UK Government to follow Welsh Government’s excellent lead, all independent publishers across the UK need government support if they are to continue serving their communities in their hour of need.”