\r\n\r\nWhat\u2019s happening:\r\n\r\nOn October 15, a News Impact Summit was held in Cardiff, Wales, to bring local news organisations from around the world together to identify effective ways to engage with their communities. The free event was organised by the European Journalism Centre and sponsored by the Google News Initiative. With the theme \u201cLocal News & Community Engagement,\u201d the summit included an array of talks and breakout sessions focused on examples of how local newsrooms, in multiple countries, are developing new products and routines to better inform and connect with their communities.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nWhy it matters:\r\n\r\nThe future of local news has been an intensely studied topic, with recent reports returning findings such as:\r\n\r\n \tAn analysis of more than 16,000 news stories in 100 U.S. communities found that only 56% address critical information needs.\r\n \tA study chronicling the expansion of \u201cnews deserts\u201d showed the loss of about 1,800 metro and community newspapers since 2004.\r\n \tResearch investigated how the hyperlocal news site The Ohio County Monitor used existing communication spaces to engage with local readers in small-town and rural Kentucky.\r\n\r\nIn the U.S. and the U.K., particularly, local newspapers have seen declining revenues over the past few decades \u2014 while at the same time having to compete with Google and Facebook for advertising revenue. At the same time, a new wave of hyper-local news sites have emerged to fill the void, especially in the U.K.\r\n\r\nKey topics at the News Impact Summit included:\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nNew models for journalism\r\n\r\nThe Bureau of Investigative Journalism\u2019s Bureau Local, a collaborative investigative network launched in March 2017, emphasised the need for new models to ensure local journalists can continue to seek truth and pursue public-interest reporting. Director Megan Lucero highlighted three key trends:\r\n\r\n \tTraditional models are collapsing;\r\n \tDigitised information changes the depth and breadth reporters can offer on issues;\r\n \tAccess to that information and determining what to do with it can be overwhelming for already resource-strapped local journalists.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe\u2019re not coming in to fix or save local news but to stand by their side,\u201d Lucero said, noting that accountability journalism requires participation from a variety of players.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nTransformation to online news distribution\r\n\r\nA panel conversation, The Digital Transition of Local News, was also held with representatives from UK local newspaper publishers. Panelists discussed the ways in which the movement to online news distribution has significantly changed their approaches to news production, including:\r\n\r\n \tThe quest for scale in audience reach\r\n \tEfforts to centralise production of digital articles and videos\r\n \tThe functions of social media, particularly Facebook, for news distribution, audience engagement, and story tips\r\n \tDifferences in audiences in print and online\r\n \tWays local newspapers aim to remain involved in their communities, such as events\r\n \tChanges to business models, such as the incorporation of paywalls.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nEmpowering locals to tell their own stories\r\n\r\nAndrea Faye Hart, co-founder and director of community engagement for City Bureau in Chicago, gave the keynote discussion on how her journalism lab has focused on empowering locals to tell their own stories, particularly to provide counter-narratives to the local news coming from primarily white, male urban newsrooms.\r\n\r\nHart said that the success of City Bureau demonstrates that people are hungry for a new kind of journalism that is more democratic, open to listening to community members, publishes at a slower pace to delve into issues, and presents solutions as well as problems.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe need to humanise the institution of journalism as a whole,\u201d Hart said.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThe bottom line:\r\n\r\nThe News Impact Summit highlighted a range of outlets focused on producing local news coverage, from longstanding newspapers to hyper-local websites and collaborative start-ups. The summit addressed the common aims and diversified approaches of these various organisations, delving into topics including editorial content, digital growth, business models, and audience relationships. Speakers seemed united in their desire to continue to develop new approaches to delivering useful and engaging content to local readers.