Local journalism is in an existential crisis. As journalists, we often ask, ‘Who's going to save local journalism?’ – meaning, ‘who's going to pay for it?’. Given the scale of the problem, w...
Columba O'Hare is editor/founder and sole employee of Newry.ie, a hyperlocal news website which serves Newry city situated close to the border in Ireland. Coming from a photography background his work now encompasses journalism, photography, advertising sales, fundraising, website management, web design, community campaigning and more.
A member of the Independent Community News Network (ICNN), Newry.ie is a not-for-profit social enterprise that exists to inform, support, challenge and celebrate the people of Newry and promote the city of around 27,000 people to the world. Campaigning for a better Newry is a major part of the site's remit. It currently is the only city in Ireland without a public park. In 2013 the website initiated a park conversation with a blog post that resulted in Columba and two others setting up campaigning group Newry 2020, that following a lengthy and at times stressful campaign involving the entire community succeeded in getting £16m earmarked for the project just a year ago.
Making a living on a small-scale local news website presents its own challenges. In late 2022 Columba was involved in organising a Local News Plan for Newry. Commissioned by the Public Interest News Foundation, it saw a diverse section of the Newry community meet to look at the issues faced by providers of local news and consider potential solutions to them.