Despite being less than a year old, the Local and Community Media Network has been gratified by the level of interest shown by people within and without the academy in our work to promote research into this vital area. Since our formation in April 2019, we have been networking with a variety of scholars and organisations both within the UK and further afield to feed in the debate surrounding the future of local media, which has found a renewed vigour in the UK at least in the wake of the Cairncross Review.
The LCM network has been created to promote the wealth of work into the current disruption of local and community media. Network representatives were invited to participate in the Independent Publishers Taskforce, led by the media regulator Impress. The taskforce was formed to respond to and build on the Cairncross Review; help strengthen public interest journalism in the UK and inform and develop policy in the field. It produced a ‘Blueprint’ report, Supporting Public Interest News (https://www.publicinterestnews.org.uk/the-blueprint). This was launched at the second annual IMPRESS, Trust in Journalism Conference, in November 2019 and LCM members benefited from discounted attendance because of our involvement. Sources of funding are clearly a key priority for both those making local news and those wishing to support the process, and the network has additionally been asked to feed into the shape of other funding schemes, acting in a confidential, advisory capacity and it is expected that there will be a growing role for the network in these discussions moving forward.
The network had hoped to host a dedicated one-day symposium focusing on issues facing the sector on 1 November. Unfortunately, the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit deadline of 31 October forced us to reconsider the event and it is now being rescheduled to summer 2020. In the meantime, we are hosting a specialist panel for the MeCCSA 2020 conference, on the theme of Interrogating the ‘community’ in local news and communication. The panel is scheduled in the conference programme for Thursday 9 January. MeCCSA 2020 also brings us the obligation (or is it opportunity?) to hold our first network meeting. The committee (David Baines, of Newcastle University, Agnes Gulyas of Canterbury Christ Church University and Rachel Matthews of Coventry University) are hoping to see you there. In addition to conducting the annual business of the network. the meeting will be an opportunity to discuss priorities for the network for the future. We also welcome anyone who is interested in getting involved either virtually or practically.
We are also in the process of proposing a panel for the 8th European Communication Conference (ECREA) on the theme of ‘Communication and trust; building safe, sustainable and promising futures’ to be held in Braga, Portugal, October 2 – 5 2020. Focusing specifically on ‘Trust and sustainable communities: Current Trends in Local Media’, our aim is to capture the range of approaches which underpin the many interventions in the local news landscape globally. Up to five papers can be included. The aspiration is to attract papers which address both practice-based projects and theoretical reflections on local media, content, production and environment (including business and policy environments) and cultural and social contexts in relation to diverse communities. ECREA is a fantastic platform for the LCM network and offers the opportunity to extend our work by reaching out to European scholars in this area. The first call for papers has gone out with a deadline of 3 January 2020.
Finally, the LCM network is keen to hear from anyone who would like to get involved or who would like to find out more about our work. To keep across our activities, you can sign up to our jiscmail via the MeCCSA website; alternatively, contact network chair, Rachel Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org for any information to contribute to any of work.