Credit: Conrtesy Ping!

Hyperlocal stories are often weird and wonderful, like the boy who found a 3-foot-long snake on his way to school or a local football club that accepts Bitcoin.

The problem is, no one - apart from the locals - knows about them.

Enter Ping!, a hyperlocal news distribution and revenue-sharing platform that seeks to help independent publishers get paid for content.

It works like a newswire: small, indie newsrooms share their stories on the platform and regional and national publishers like Reach, Newsquest or Evening Standard pay a monthly subscription fee that allows them to republish hyperlocal content.

Since its launch in July, some 2,500 articles have been pushed onto the platform, and hundreds have been picked up, sometimes even making the front pages.

What is a fair price for hyperlocal journalism?

Matt Abbott, director of Ping!, explains that the subscription fee is calculated by an algorithm that takes into account the size of the subscribing organisation, the region where it operates and the amount of content they use etc.

"We want to charge them enough so we can pay the hyperlocal as much as we can," he says, adding that subscribers currently do not pay for content during the pre-trial period that ends in September. But that is set to change and the platform is negotiating with the publishers the amount they will be charged, although he cannot disclose details.

He also says that 60 per cent of the fee goes directly to the journalists creating the content; 30 per cent into development, such as AI, hosting, and accounting; and 10 per cent provides funding for programmes to support the hyperlocals.

The platform is also looking to develop a tool for larger publishers to commission stories directly from hyperlocal news providers, rather than sending their own journalists from London to cover them. It also wants to create a shared advertising model to redistribute ad money among the hyperlocals.

Ping! now counts some 45 publications among its content creators. All of them are members of the Independent Community News Network (ICNN).

There is no equivalent of what Ping! is doing in the UK or internationally. But once it gets the model running, the company wants to license its software to similar organisations in Europe.

Ping! was developed with funding from Google’s Digital News Initiative Fund, in collaboration with ICNN and Cardiff University. Some startup money also came from Meta and Nesta and the business was later set up as a community interest company (CIC) with two directors.

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