Shirish Kulkarni is an award-winning journalist with 25 years’ experience in TV news, specialising in mental health, young people and the far right. This post was originally published on The Bureau of Investigative Journalism's website and is republished here with permission.
The coronavirus pandemic is having a catastrophic impact on local media, an industry that was already in crisis. The collapse of online advertising, interruption of print distribution and loss of income from donations and subscriptions has meant publishers all over the UK have had to furlough staff, cut wages and suspend print titles. A recent survey of independent UK news providers found that 75 per cent are at risk of closure as a result of the pandemic.
Bureau Local works with a network of local and hyperlocal reporters and publications across the country to produce public interest journalism that makes an impact. We believe holding power to account, locally and nationally, is crucial for a just and equitable society. That is true now, perhaps more than ever.
Despite being a small non-profit, we have put the fight for the local news industry at the heart of what we do. From the beginning, the Bureau Local network was built to serve the industry with open source investigations and increased access to localised information.
We have also submitted evidence to the government’s Cairncross inquiry and the Lords’s select committee inquiry into the future of local news. We have built a business and sustainability report that we have shared with the industry. As the news industry faces increased financial pressure due to covid-19, we are working harder than ever to build wider infrastructure support.
And right now, we also want to add our voice to those calling for local journalism to be supported and protected.
We asked our network how we could best do that in a way that was constructive and positive and reflected our collaborative ethos. Frank Andrews, a member of the network, summed it up best when he said: "People see the importance of local journalism when they see reporting making a difference, so I think it could help to highlight the best of local journalism at a national level."
That is why we want your help in showcasing great local and hyperlocal journalism that has made a real difference in towns, cities and communities across the UK. We are partnering with the Public Interest News Foundation, the Independent Community News Network and the National Union of Journalists to launch the #lovelocalnews campaign.
It might be something you have seen, something you wrote yourself, or great work by a friend or colleague. We know how much brilliant journalism is done by local publications and we want to make sure as many people know about it as possible.
We will aim to share as many of these as we can, as they come in, and we will then collate some of our favourites into a Bureau Local article showcasing the very best of local journalism.
We #lovelocalnews and want you to help us remind everyone why it is so important.
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