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IMPRESS participates in Hyperlocal News report by LSE Polis

In a report published with Polis, the journalism think tank of the London School of Economics, journalist, researcher and teacher Carina Tenor analyses the UK’s hyperlocal news sector. "Hyperlocal News: After the Hype" presents the key characteristics of hyperlocal news organisation by including international comparisons. It shows both the limits of the sector, and its potential and vitality.

IMPRESS CEO Jonathan Heawood provided his views on local journalism, the importance of plurality and standards.

Excerpts from the report:

There are clear differences between what the still relatively powerful big local news companies can do and these smaller players. Hyperlocals should be viewed as a counterbalancing contribution".

Jonathan Heawood says that he meets a lot of inspired, passionate and good journalists that want to do local journalism outside the corporate news industry. From his perspective, what is important is that people can access high quality journalism from different sources, and with different political views. Plurality is good – but not enough without standards, he says. In his opinion, hyperlocal publishing should help democracy and the public sphere, with basic standards of accuracy and ethics."

Jonathan Heawood sees a tension within the sector, and thinks that for the next 5-10 years we should keep a close eye on its development: “Will they have to become commercial to be able to survive? Will they need state subsidies?” Perrin describes the journey of hyperlocal websites as a circle: “Strong interest in the beginning, lots of people will come into it, and an awful lot of falling out of it, of churn, as people don’t succeed. But then there is a core of fabulous sites, like On the White and Brixton Blog. Some of them struggle from year to year, financially; they are quite open about that.”

Other organisations consulted in this report are the Centre for Community Journalism (C4CJ), the Independent Community News Network (ICNN), the Talk About Local network and the innovation foundation NESTA.

The full report is available for download here.