Funding announced for new dedicated Senedd Reporter after Welsh independent media push
Wales is set to gain a fresh perspective on the Senedd, thanks to recently announced funding that includes a pilot project for a dedicated reporter stationed in the heart of Welsh politics.
Reports produced by this journalist will be featured on Deeside.com, providing the public with comprehensive coverage of the Senedd’s activities.
The move aims to strengthen local journalism and address the information deficit, providing better coverage of the business conducted by Senedd Members.
Deeside.com and Wrexham.com have long pushed for the concept of a dedicated reporter at the Senedd.
This initiative will create a news feed for Welsh independent media, ensuring coverage of the Senedd’s plenary sessions and committee hearings.
The latter, despite their importance, have often been overlooked in media coverage.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for better coverage of devolved matters, such as health policy.
Pre-pandemic, our sister site Wrexham.com explored news feeds from the Senedd and Wales, only to find disappointing output.
The funding announcement from the Welsh Government acknowledges the information deficit and aims to improve Welsh-based journalism.
The Welsh Government has committed to strengthening local journalism through its Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru.
With funding emerging partly from the body that the Senedd will hold to account, it is crucial that the overall grant is kept at arm’s length.
To facilitate this, the funding will be managed by Ping! News CIC, a community interest company run by the Independent Community News Network and Bristol-based developer Omni Digital.
Ping! aims to support sustainability in the independent community news sector.
The Senedd Reporter role draws inspiration from the BBC Local Democracy Service, which employs hundreds of reporters across the UK to cover local councils.
The successful candidate for the Senedd Reporter position will be recruited and run out of the independent media title ‘Caerphilly Observer,’ which serves the Caerphilly area.
This collaborative project has been welcomed by Richard Gurner, editor and publisher of Caerphilly Observer, as a foundation for improving understanding of the Senedd’s work and its influence on people’s lives.
The Welsh Government has allocated £200,000 in funding for this initiative.
In addition to the journalism fund, three sector focused pilot projects have secured a share of additional £100,000 of funding.
The projects are:
- Independent Community News Network (ICNN) – Dedicated Senedd Reporter Post.
- Cardiff University – Wales Sector Data Research.
- Inclusive Journalism Cymru- Inclusive Media Development Lab
Funding to Cardiff University will allow it to look specifically at the current state of the Welsh journalism sector both from producers and consumer perspectives. The information gathered will allow for a comprehensive plan of action for future support of the sector, providing a clear overall picture of the industry in Wales and areas for specific, tailored intervention.
Funding will also be provided to Inclusive Journalism Cymru who are working to build a more inclusive and representative journalism sector. They will run a new programme – the Inclusive Media Development Lab – which will provide training, interactive workshops and follow-up support for anyone wanting to develop their media career with a range of entrepreneurship, business, R&D and product design skills. As the industry faces increasing economic challenges, these skills will be crucial in helping support sustainable public interest journalism.
The Lab is being developed and run in partnership with Startup Migrants, Media Cymru, PDR, and the Institute of Welsh Affairs. It will be an opportunity to connect with media innovators from across Wales, the UK and Europe, to learn about opportunities for further development and funding, and to become part of a network of people working towards a better media future.
Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport & Tourism, Dawn Bowden, said: “A strong and vibrant media sector in Wales is an essential part of a modern democratic society. A strong and independent media is essential to provide a comprehensive service that informs, educates and inspires the people of Wales. I’m delighted that we can announce this funding which will play a part in addressing the issues which currently face the sector – and also asses the current landscape and inform future funding and interventions.”
Designated Member Cefin Campbell said: “Wales needs independent, home-grown journalism that is rooted in our communities so they are supported to report on matters that are relevant and important locally. Covering stories about Wales from Wales is a crucial part of our democratic process. By working together through the Co-operation Agreement, the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru are able to fund these projects so they can help provide a distinct Welsh voice and play a role in supporting home-made journalism for Wales.”
Commenting on the announcement Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Culture, Tom Giffard MS said: “Wales has a longstanding issue with a lack of media choice, but at a time when the Labour Government are cutting the Welsh health and education budgets, people will rightly ask whether this is the best use of their money.
“Labour should not be spending taxpayer cash self-selecting and writing the job description for a journalist to cover themselves, this is another example of Labour Ministers in the Senedd marking their own homework.
“While the industry may be facing difficulties, this vanity project is the wrong priority for the people of Wales. Labour need to focus on reducing waiting lists in our Welsh NHS, improving educational outcomes, and growing pay packets.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com