January 18, 2021
The NMA says that the local news media sector has come together to launch an industry digital portal to further promote public notices to communities and enhance local democracy by harnessing local media’s massive online audiences. Funded by £1 million from the Google News Initiative, the project will see the creation of a common online portal containing public notices published in print by regional and local newspapers across the UK.
The project will see public notices surfaced on the main pages of local news websites, further enhancing people’s access to and understanding of important information about planning, construction, transport links, roadworks, licensing changes and the like in their local area. The Online Public Notices Portal will be fully searchable by postcode, type of notice and keyword and, in addition to operating as a standalone site, will operate as a vertical within around 800 local news media websites right across the country. The portal will deliver notifications for users who have signed up to receive alerts about particular types of planning notices, or notices relating to a specific geographic area, boosting public engagement with the notices.
The local news media sector has also agreed to adopt new Public Notices Publishing Guidelines, a set of commitments to better publicise public notices, including regular editorial coverage in print and digital, and clear signposting in paper.
The NMA says that the announcement of the industry-wide portal and publishing guidelines “demonstrates a further commitment from local publishers in their essential role of keeping local people properly informed, and a determination to work with local councils to improve engagement with public notices and make them fit for the 21st century”.
A steering group of local publishers has been tasked with appointing a development partner for the Online Public Notices Portal and overseeing its delivery. The plan will see the launch of a beta version of the portal in the summer 2021.