Bude & Beyond was thrilled back in August 2017 to be one of the first 10 members of the ICNN (Independent Community News Network). This is a body set up at the University of Cardiff to represent hyperlocal news publications as a group. It probably won’t mean much to readers but to the small B & B it is recognition of what we do by an official body which lauds, applauds and advocates hyperlocal and community news (basically, what we do). That independent body now has around 60 members representing hyperlocal news producers around the country.
ICNN is concerned exclusively with representing community and hyperlocal publications like Bude & Beyond. They advocate and lobby on behalf of independent news publishers across the UK and fight for better opportunities for all. Hyperlocal newspapers are a community asset, and many go on to become bigger. Some have paying subscribers but Bude & Beyond is free, supported by our generous advertisers.
The ICNN long-term goals are to secure recognition and accreditation for community publishers. To this end, they are currently working with the National Union of Journalists to find a solution that will enable community publishers to carry press cards (currently we don’t but other local newspapers do). As online readership grows and print declines, the NUJ needs to find a solution to this. When I wrote for Bude People we had press cards because we were large of a much larger news organisation. Hyperlocals are not about large organisations, they are about the local community, but there is still a struggle to be fully accepted as press. Even in Bude, many people and organisations will send news to the Bude & Stratton, for example, and not consider sending it to this website, even though the readership demographics are quite different, so there’s still quite a way for us to go.
Meanwhile, ICNN is developing strategies to tackle issues such as statutory public notices and sustainability; working with third-party organisations to address financial constraints and deliver solutions to help publishers deliver quality news provisions to their communities. It is also working with legal professionals and trainers to ensure that publishers have access to free and impartial media law guidance. As more and more profit-making paid news outlets are failing, hyperlocals are becoming increasingly important. Move with the time and make your contribution to the community through Bude & Beyond.