In response to challenges faced by the hyperlocal news industry, the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas (JNI) has partnered with the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) to develop an industry-wide capacity-building organisation, the Local and Independent News Association (LINA).
Research by JNI and CBAA found the most significant challenges identified by founders of hyperlocal news outlets were building and maintaining sustainable revenue streams and using technology to maximise reach.
The Association will help existing hyperlocal media to survive and grow, and to encourage new hyperlocal media entrants by providing capacity-building support, expert advice and access to critical third-party services. The hands-on support provided by LINA will directly address the challenges commonly cited by hyperlocal news organisations.
LINA will also help to create a network among hyperlocal news organisations to support peer-to-peer learning through online and in-person forums, conferences, and a digital library of resources, including style guides and content templates.
JNI Executive Director Mark Ryan said that after years of working with hyperlocal news publishers and editors it became clear that philanthropic grants alone are not the long-term solution to ensure the viability of these important media outlets.
“Hyperlocal news outlets, new and legacy, are vital to Australian democracy and culture. They tell the stories that matter to local communities, advocate for them and contribute to social and community cohesion. We want to play a part in reducing the number and scale of news deserts in Australia.
“LINA will be an organisation that helps hyperlocal news businesses develop business models that are sustainable. Often these organisations are teams of two or three people who simply don’t have the existing experience, or the time, to build their businesses in the most efficient and effective way possible, but they have a clear vision and passion for covering the stories that matter to their community,” said Mr Ryan.
CBAA CEO and foundational LINA Chair Jon Bisset said, “Local publishers share many similarities with community radio stations — community-driven, independent and deeply connected to their regions. We are excited to support LINA with our existing expertise and economies of scale.
“We want to help strengthen and foster hyperlocal publishers, ensuring that small media models can thrive — and that our communities can get the information that they need.”
LINA has been incorporated and a search for an Executive Director is currently underway.