1st December 2022, words by Joe Mitchell
Earlier this month, the Public Interest News Foundation (PINF), with support from LankellyChase, hosted a gathering of independent news providers and news infrastructure organisations. In this blogpost, PINF’s Joe Mitchell outlines five potential projects coming out of the day. You’re invited to get involved in the ongoing conversations – see the links below.
PINF is a charity established in 2019 to support public interest news. We have a vision of a society in which everyone benefits from public interest news that speaks to them, for them and with them. To support that vision, we aim to help ensure the social and economic sustainability of public interest news in the UK. This includes building solidarity between independent news providers and co-creating projects to benefit the whole sector – something we aimed to do by hosting the Independent News Forum in Leeds last month.
The forum was co-hosted by Leeds University’s School of Media and Communication, with support from LankellyChase, who made it possible for a wide range of news providers and supportive organisations to attend from all over the UK: from Glasgow’s Greater Govanhill to Exeter Observer, and from West Leeds Dispatch to Caerphilly Observer; and supportive organisations including the Media Reform Coalition and the Independent Media Association.
Shared values and work we could do together
We started by asking news providers why they do what they do, to try to identify the group’s shared values. Their list of ‘whys’ included: to provide a voice for communities; for representation; to build trust and partnership within and between communities; to boost local pride; for empowerment; to challenge and scrutinise authority; to tackle a democratic deficit; for respect; for public service – and for love!
This was followed up by asking how we could better live these values. Ideas were not in short supply: they ranged from shared infrastructure, such as joint advertising sales, to shifts in public culture around paying for news, and from new schools of journalism to ‘Michelin stars for media’.
Five projects to take forward
After a vigorous round of voting and sorting, the forum took forward five ideas. Small groups formed around each idea, building out the idea and what it would take to make it happen.
- Define and develop new models of journalism
The group working on this idea proposed a need to define and develop a new model of journalism. This definition would cover content, business models, ethos and values. The group sketched some ideas of requirements for inclusion under the ‘new model’ and will take this forward in a Zoom call. Read more about the idea and sign up for the call here.
2. Create a PR campaign for independent news
The goal of this group was to raise awareness of the independent news sector. The plan was to do this by telling a story that is ‘simple, engaging, memorable, emotive and powerful.’ The campaign could create ‘Independent Local News Day’ like ‘Independent Record Store Day’ which has had success around the world. The group also discussed potential ambassadors and agencies who could support the campaign. Read more and join a conversation about the idea here.
3. Build and communicate evidence of impact
This group investigated ways to understand and measure impact: where it might happen (e.g. on the news industry or in communities), what it might look like (e.g. trust or community cohesion) and what tools could be used (e.g. surveys or testimonies). They outlined a need for capacity building in the sector and for thinking about who needs to see this evidence. Next steps could include gathering existing evidence, hosting an ‘impact awards’, and writing impact ‘crib sheets’. There’s more on this idea and an opportunity to join a conversation about the next steps here.
4. Build a distributed support network
What would news publishers want from a support network? This group discussed ideas from spaces to share experiences and problems, to mentoring and peer-to-peer education. As a ‘distributed’ support network, no single organisation would hold responsibility, but a core group could lead. They also discussed using a time-banking system, hosting regional socials and sharing professional support. Read more, and join a conversation to take this idea forward, here.
5. Encourage deep community engagement
What does good community involvement in news provision – or news’ involvement in communities – look like? This group suggested ideas such as locals telling their own stories, to accessible and accountable journalists. They discussed how to get there, from having community members on boards to offering community training. Together, next steps could involve a bank of good ideas or developing a framework for community engagement. You can read more about this idea and join a conversation on next steps here.