As reported on 9 April by Matt Abbott on the Centre for Community Journalism website:
In a letter to grantees, the Minister for Economy, Transport and north Wales, Ken Skates AM stressed the importance of independent community news publications as being vital in helping overcome the coronavirus.
He said: “The hyper-local journalism sector provides an important local source of public interest news, especially at this difficult time when communities need it most.
“I am aware that the sector is facing unprecedented times and the Covid-19 crisis could have devastating effects on the sector and the provision of independent community news.
“We are absolutely committed to providing the support and assurance of the business community needs.
“I have now approved emergency grant revenue funding of up to £8,500 to support [eligible publications] through the next few months.”
Grantees were asked to continue sharing direct links to channels of information and guidance on business support to help the joint effort to support our businesses and the third sector in Wales in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The emergency fund comes after the successful pilot of the Independent Community Journalism Fund that granted revenue expenditure funding to welsh hyperlocals.
Just over half of this fund was spent and there was ongoing uncertainty over whether successful grantees would be able to access the remaining money.
Editor of My Town Media’s two online titles, MyWelshpool and MyNewtown, Graham Breeze said: “This is amazing news for the hyperlocal sector and the money will go a massive way to protecting the independent community news networks in Wales at this extremely difficult time for us all.
“At MyWelshpool and MyNewtown revenues will virtually dry up over the next month or so leaving us unable to pay the dedicated team of staff who have been keeping Mid Wales informed around the clock with up-to-date news for the last 10 years. This grant is a lifeline for us.”
Editor of the Caerphilly Observer, Richard Gurner said: “This funding is a welcome boost at a very precarious time for the independent media sector in Wales, and I would like to thank the Welsh Government for cutting through the red tape to make it happen.
“I’d also like to thank ICNN for all of their efforts in making this possible and also Caerphilly’s Assembly Member Hefin David, who raised this issue with First Minister Mark Drakeford in the Senedd.”
Director of ICNN Emma Meese said: “We are delighted that Welsh Government has acknowledged the value ICNN members bring to the communities they serve.
“I’d like to thank Ken Skates AC/AM for his continued commitment and support of the sector and for offering financial support to help our members survive the current crisis.
“Quality and reputable journalism has never been more in need and acknowledging that, by saying these news publications are vitally important in helping overcome the virus, is a huge boost for the independent news sector.
“We now call on the UK Government to follow Welsh Government’s excellent lead, all independent publishers across the UK need government support if they are to continue serving their communities in their hour of need.”