Where next for UK hyperlocal media?

This is the final extract from Where are we now? UK hyperlocal media and community journalism in 2015  a new report commissioned by the Centre for Community Journalism and supported by Cardiff University and Nesta.

Since 2012 we have seen a step-change in the empirical evidence base for UK hyperlocal media.

Research by academic institutions, NGOs and regulators, have all deepened our understanding about the audiences, content and business models found across this sector.

As a result, we have the strongest indication yet of the civic and public value UK hyperlocal media creates in undertaking a range of journalistic and community outputs; from holding authority to account, through to running campaigns and reporting on local events.

However, despite this increased recognition and understanding, the core issues that challenge the on-going success of UK hyperlocal media remain unchanged. These issues include:

  • Sustainability – both financial and personnel
  • Funding
  • Discoverability
  • Access to non-financial resources and services
  • Recognition by traditional media, politicians and regulators

There has been progress in all of these areas in the past three years. But, this progress has not been sufficient to provide the sector with any degree of long-term certainty. For too many providers their existence remains hand-to-mouth and this has an inevitable impact on both sustainability and the appeal of the sector to new entrants.

Unlike other media groups, hyperlocal publishers do not belong to a trade body, and they do not have ready access to politicians to help make their case. As a result, their contribution to UK journalism[i] and our local communities can be easily overlooked.

This report has analysed the current evidence base and identified opportunities and challenges for the future of hyperlocal media and community journalism in the UK.

In doing this, we have sought to show their impact and to demonstrate what we know about the sector. We believe that this shows a vibrant sector that delivers public value to society.

But if the UK’s hyperlocal media industry is to grow it is likely to need help. At a time of continued pressures on traditional media and media plurality, and increased devolution of political powers at a national, regional and local level, the need for hyperlocal media is greater than ever.

It’s time for politicians, policy makers and public media players to give them a helping hand. The value derived from this activity could benefit everyone.  What happens next is up to you.

[i] http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/collegeofjournalism/entries/83df11cb-40ef-408c-a8df-3b8ce1948240

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