Hyperlocal news websites can play a “central role in a new, thriving local news system in the 21st century”, a report from the Carnegie UK Trust has claimed.
However, the report – called ‘The Future’s Bright, the Future’s Local.’ – has called on the government to provide financial support to help the hyperlocal sector develop and succeed.
There are now almost 500 active hyperlocal news sites across the UK, which the report says are filling the gap left by the decline in traditional print models.
And while urging the BBC and other local news organisations to build stronger relationships with hyperlocal news providers, the report says the government should be doing more to remove “barriers” currently in the way of start-ups.
It said: “The UK Government should stimulate hyperlocal media by reworking existing interventions in the local news market that are currently heavily skewed to support existing providers and can act as a barrier to market entry for the emerging hyperlocal sector.
“The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government intervened heavily to support local bloggers attending and then filming local council meetings, alongside the traditional press. The Department for Communities and Local Government could also intervene to start levelling the playing field on financial support, for instance to permit local authorities to spend some (e.g. 10%) of their statutory advertising budgets through hyperlocal news providers.”
The Carnegie UK Trust’s findings were based on lessons learnt from its ‘Neighbourhood News’ initiative in 2013, which funded five local news organisations including Cybermoor in Cumbria.
The full report can be downloaded here.