Local Newspapers Embrace Change in their Communities and Online

For anyone involved with local and regional newspapers, 2013 will be remembered as the year when local newspapers throughout Ireland joined forces, got active and embraced change.

Local Newspapers “Got Involved”

Get Involved is a local community initiative developed by NNI Local & Regional and the Regional Newspapers and Printers Association of Ireland (RNPAI). In the inaugural year of Get Involved, local and regional newspapers throughout Ireland led and fuelled community projects through active involvement and support in the pages of the local press.

Local newspapers are at the heart of their local communities and this initiative encouraged them to utilise their incredible social capital to drive positive change. A national competition between projects helped to incentivise communities to ‘Get Involved’ and put in the hard graft required to plan and complete projects.

The competition was judged by a panel chaired by renowned architect and environmentalist, Duncan Stewart. The winners were announced by President Michael D Higgins at an awards ceremony held at Aras an Uachtarain in September.

First place went to a school water sustainability project at Kilmeena National School, in association with The Connaught Telegraph. Second place was won by the Battery Heights community memorial garden in association with the Westmeath Independent and third place went to the Doorly Park Clean and Green Project in Sligo Town, in association with The Sligo Champion.

Duncan Stewart, chairman of the judging panel said that the initiative struck a very positive chord with him, “It signaled an emerging widespread interest and enthusiasm amongst communities to embrace locally-based collaborative projects that benefit their local environs and economy,” said Stewart, “Next year’s ‘Get-Involved’ competition will set out to inspire and stimulate even greater local community collaboration through voluntary efforts and to foster green enterprises through community co-operatives, to build local resilience and generate new livelihoods.”

Embracing Change and Innovation

The themes of sustainability and community engagement were extended throughout Local Newspaper Week is October and the Local Newspapers Week symposium, which took place in Dublin on October 9th.

The symposium, entitled Embracing Change, was supported by an excellent line up of speakers, including Mark Little, Duncan Stewart, Steven Knowlton, Brendan O’Connor, David McRedmond, Tara Buckley, Dave O’Connell and Dearbhail McDonald.

Little, who was the key note speaker, challenged local newspapers to think beyond the printed page. He highlighted the opportunities for local newspapers to develop strong web presences and to benefit from the social engagement of their local communities online.

In terms of generating revenue, Little counseled that there is no single silver bullet to solve the financial challenges facing local newspapers. Instead he suggested that local papers should look at a diverse range of revenue streams and be prepared to innovate.

“The key is not to try and imitate the big overhauls being undertaken by international media organisations. Local newspapers need to take lots of small steps quickly and be prepared to fail and learn quickly,” he said.

He left the audience with the positive message that local newspapers are up to the challenge of operating successfully in a digital era.

Find Out More

Find out more about Get Involved here.

Or to learn about NNI Local and Regional contact Enda Buckley