Our blog to take you into the weekend is with Lauren Pennycook. Lauren is a Policy Officer with Carnegie UK Trust. Below she explains about community news.
The number one way we learn about community news is through our local newspaper, according to a new survey of 2,000 people. But with 31 weekly newspapers in England, Scotland and Wales ceasing trading in 2011, the work of our local councils and key agencies in our community such as the NHS is going unreported, and the role of our local news media as our main information channel is jeopardised.
This local importance versus limited resources dilemma is the reason why we at the Carnegie UK Trust have developed Neighbourhood News, a £50,000 competition to improve local news reporting. The competition was open to local commercial media and civil society organisations across the UK and Ireland with a project designed to meet the need for local news or address the democratic deficit in a clearly defined geographical area. With the help of our external expert Advisory Group we chose five organisations to become our Carnegie Partners on Neighbourhood News, with each receiving £10,000 over one year to complete their projects.
As the Trust received nearly 80 applications to become a Carnegie Partner we have seen first-hand evidence of democratic deficits affecting our communities, from Caithness to Castle Douglas, and the appetite of local organisations to provide community news and address this problem themselves. We are evaluating the success of the five Carnegie Partners in addressing the need for news or democratic deficit as a result of our support, and we will share the wealth of knowledge and experience collected widely, with other funders, policymakers and practitioners.
Indeed, encouraging others to take action on this agenda in the future is one of the key objectives of Neighbourhood News. The potential impact of reduced local news reporting on our democracy is so profound that we are calling on funders across the UK and Ireland to learn from the experiences and needs of our Carnegie Partners, and to consider supporting local news provision as a priority.
Thanks to Lauren for this. If you are interested in benefitting your community, have a look at our Awards for All fund.