Local journalists are digesting the difficult news that local publisher Johnston Press is being bought out. The full suite of Johnston titles covering more than 200 locations, is being taken on by newly formed company JPIMedia, after Johnston failed to find a solution for debts of £220m due for repayment next summer.
Meanwhile, Facebook has announced £4.5m, to hire and train 80 community reporters and the BBC has is paying for 150 ‘local democracy reporters’. Elsewhere the Bureau for Investigative Journalism is partnering with local and citizen journalists and bloggers while emerging newspaper models such as the Bristol Cable are ‘owned and powered’ by 2000 local members who help to decide what stories are followed up.
The impact on the Third Sector
There is no single solution for local newspapers, but the mass migration toward online content certainly poses a challenge for more than jobbing journalists. For many charities, local newspapers have long been a vital platform to raise awareness and funds, connecting community fundraisers with new supporters. As a former local journalist, I often featured the accounts of individuals whose experiences converted a national charity campaign to a local level, inspiring fundraising and action to effect change.
Local newspapers frequently put column inches behind charities, through media partnerships capable of converting readers into active campaigners for a cause. The legacy of mass participation charity events often feature in the pages of the local newspaper, providing an inspiring reminder of how individual pledges can lead to life changing results. Online platforms and social media are without doubt an effective tool to engage potential supporters, but as local newspapers face an uncertain future, there is a strong case for remembering their unique role in harnessing the power of the community.
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