The Independent Community News Network calls on financial support package from the government
By Luchia Robinson
The Independent Community News Network (ICNN) has begun a national campaign to help local news publications survive through the coronavirus pandemic.
ICNN’s Save Independent News campaign is highlighting the importance of local news, in efforts to secure funds to support its membership of 108 small news publishers nationwide, including Tottenham Community Press (TCP).
Emma Meese, Director of ICNN said: “We fear that, unless we can secure some emergency funding to support small news publishers at this time, communities across the UK will lose their independent press at a time when they need it most.
“It is critical for public health that these publications continue to give essential, verified and useful information to the communities they serve.
“If these publishers are forced to close, the UK will be left with many more news black holes which we will struggle to fill again.”
With advertising revenue in sharp decline, ICNN is calling for these local publications to get direct access to any government Public Health/ NHS advertising campaigns, to ensure they can continue to operate.
“We cannot stress enough how a little funding will go a very long way with our members,” said Emma.
“Business hibernation is not possible because of the nature of what these news organisations do. Now, more than ever, they need to be growing their output to help connect communities.”
ICNN has reached out to local MPs seeking their support in recognising the impact of these independent publications within their local communities.
Speaking of TCP, MP for Tottenham,
David Lammy, said: “Ever since it launched in 2016, Tottenham Community Press has become a bedrock of our constituency. Authority from above is checked most robustly, responsibly and rigorously when we hear testimony and truth from below.
“By providing an opportunity for local people to set the agenda themselves, Tottenham Community Press has generated an unrivalled sense of solidarity between our diverse communities.
“As my local newspaper, I look forward to its authentic storytelling and hard-hitting journalism every single month. So much so that, frankly, I cannot imagine the local community without it.”
The Liberal Democrats are leading a cross-party campaign in support of ICNN and small-scale publications. Writing in a letter to the government, Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael requested for a proportionate share of public health advertising spend to be pledged to local press.
He said: “This letter is about getting a fair share of government advertising spend for local and independent press, to reflect both their importance in our communities and their financial needs. The Secretary of State for Health has an important role in deciding where these advertising funds go.”
Cllr Liz Morris, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Haringey Council, said: “Haringey is very lucky to still have a vibrant local press. Outlets such as the Ham & High, Enfield & Haringey Independent and Tottenham Community Press play a crucial role in not only keeping us all informed about the news across the borough, but they also have an important role to play in the fight against coronavirus.
“The government must take action in pledging a proportionate share of public health advertising spend to local media. This will not only provide financial support to ensure these outlets don’t go under during this crisis, but step up the public information available to the public which is imperative to delaying the spread of the virus.”
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