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Government report recognises value of MyNewtown

Created on 10/05/2018 @ 20:25
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A Welsh Government report has recognised the importance of hyperlocal news sites like MyNewtown and MyWelshpool in a wide-ranging report into news journalism in Wales.

The Welsh Assembly’s Language and Communications Committee recommends allowing hyperlocal media outlets to apply for funding from a £100,000 a year pot to help keep them sustainable.

The Welsh Government has been urged to offer £200,000 of funding for hyperlocal journalism over the next two years while also exploring the possibility of launching publicly-funded “news hubs” in parts of Wales.

The committee also wants the Welsh Government to enable statutory notices to be published by hyperlocal and online providers – saying the current system requiring them to be published in print “insulates” local newspapers from competition.

In its report the committee further urged the BBC to carry out a public review into the recently launched local democracy reporting scheme, amid concerns that regional publishers have used funding from the programme to “replace existing provision, rather than provide additional content”.

In the report, the committee urged the Welsh Government to use £100,000 it has set aside for the next two financial years to help fund new hyperlocal start-ups, as well as current operators in the sector looking to innovate and develop more sustainable business models.

Graham Breeze, a Partner at MyTown Media, owners of MyNewtown said he welcomed the report and the committee’s acknowledgement of the valuable role being played by hyperlocal media in Wales.

“I was summoned to speak to the committee and am delighted that the views put forward have been fully understood and acted upon,” he said. “I urge Welsh Government to now act on these recommendations.

“Since being launched in 2010 MyWelshpool and MyNewtown have developed into highly respected and award winning hyperlocal news sites but we are not being allowed to compete on an even playing field. A share of Government and local authority public notice spend will make a huge difference.

“I also welcome the recommendation to make £200,000 available over a two-year period to help the development of the hyperlocal market in Wales.”

Mr Breeze (pictured) said he will be writing to Mid Wales Assembly members calling for them to fully support the report.

Assembly Member and committee chair Bethan Sayed, said: “A free press and media has long been the mark of a free society. Without frank and independent journalism people may not be fully informed of what is done in their name and Governments, and others with power, will not be held to account for their actions.

“The decline of commercial news journalism in Wales should therefore concern us all. As in other parts of the world, the circulations of Welsh newspapers have dropped sharply in recent years while online circulation has grown – leading to job-losses, mergers and newspaper closures.

“Wales is far from alone in seeing a decline in traditional print newspapers. However, the Welsh media is smaller and less diverse than other parts of the UK and so the impact of these changes is affecting us disproportionately.

“We believe the Welsh Government should consider the importance of a diverse media sector as a strategic priority and investigate ways to support it either directly or indirectly.”

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