Wales is investing in Papuro Bro, a network of 52 newspapers, website and apps devoted to covering local events and issues in Welsh, a language often neglected by mainstream media. Individual papers have teamed up with local colleges and community centres to train young people in media and publishing, producing apps, writing articles, editing and developing business strategies. The result is a skills boost for neglected language communities, a network for promoting local businesses, and a hyperlocal source of information where underrepresented groups can see themselves.
Results & Impact
The Papuro Bro network of local papers consists of 52 publications across Wales, and currently has a collective nationwide circulation of more than 56,000.
Welsh Government, Cardiff University School of Journalism, Culture and Media Studies, Nesta, Technology Strategy Board
The Papuro Bro network consists primarily of community-run grassroots papers, which are managed and produced by volunteers or paid staff. More recently, the Welsh Assembly has invested funding – more than $100,000 each year – to the network, and since 2012, Nesta has contributed funding to selected newspapers as part of its Destination Local project. Much of the funding has been directed to community and employability development programs at each of the newspapers.
Cost & Value
The Welsh Assembly gave $114,650 to fund Papuro Bro in 2016, and 50 individual papers receive between $1,050 and $2,300 each year.
Running since 2012
Young people are often less interested in speaking Welsh than their parents, particularly in the heartlands of the country, so expanding the audiences for monolingual publications can be challenging. For new hyperlocal publications, as with all media organisations, funding challenges are a primary concern and the papers rely on government or lottery funding, through Nesta, to grow.
The 52-strong network is set to open new editions in four towns in Wales. Nesta's Destination Local program is funding hyperlocal publications in towns across the UK.
Wales is increasing access to information while strengthening communities and job prospects through a network of hyperlocal newspapers. These are publications which are targeted at very limited and particular areas.
Papuro Bro, a devoted network of Welsh language papers serving small communities and towns across Wales, currently includes 52 papers with a monthly circulation of 56,000. Now, some of the publications are applying their community links and media expertise to training young people and creating job and volunteering opportunities.
The Papur Dre in Caernarfon, for example, has a website and a monthly circulation of 1,500, meaning it’s bought by roughly one fifth of the local population. Its success has attracted funding and extended wider benefits to the community.
As part of Nesta’s Destination Local, which is investing in hyperlocal media across Britain, the paper has teamed up with local production company Cwmni Da and local college Colleg Menai. The collaboration, which has been running since 2012, is focusing on engaging all parts of the community to create digital content on an app, website and video. It’s produced by a team of around 12 students at Colleg Menai, who contribute about 8 hours each week to the project. They pitch ideas to an editorial board and receive training and experience in media.
Financing of the project is secured through a range of sources. In the case of Papur Dre, the website and app are free to download and offer around three to five stories, with full subscriptions available for $6.50 a year. The paper copy is sold at stores and passed out by hand around the town. Advertising space is sold on both platforms.
Although Papur Dre is volunteer-led, the varied business structure of this network means it’s been able to create jobs as well as train locals for further work in the industry. Hyperlocal papers such as Llanw Llyn on the Llyn Peninsula now employ staff to run the paper and English language locals such as the Caerphilly Observer also employ journalists.
The Papuro Bro network is at root a community-organised network of publications. Running since the 1970s, they have long been an important element of community life in Wales. More recently, however, their work was boosted with an injection of cash from the Welsh Assembly, which last year granted $114,650 to the network, pledging between $1,050 and $,2300 per publication each year. The funding comes from the strategy of the Digital News and Information Taskforce, convened by the National Assembly for Wales in 2016. It focused on recommending new ways for the government to communicate with its public, and pinpointed hyperlocal news sources as an important way of achieving that. Nesta’s Destination Local program has also contributed money to the papers.
The project arrives at a difficult time for the Welsh language and media catering to its speakers. Between 2001 and 2011 the percentage of Welsh speakers in the country dropped from 20.8% to 19%. Welsh broadcaster S4C, which receives public funding for its programming, recently warned of the danger that funding shortfalls pose to quality programming.
In Caernarfon, which has one of the highest concentration of Welsh speakers in the country, the local commercial newspaper stopped publishing news in Welsh in 2003. Welsh language employers are also in short supply even in what are traditionally considered the heartlands of the language. By reflecting small communities in the media, training young people in skills for work and even creating jobs, the Papuro Bro is an attempt to address both isolation and economic decline in Welsh-speaking communities.
(Picture: Flickr / Jason Ralston)