The launch of The National Wales on the 1st of March was the culmination of months of hard work funded by you, the Patreon supporters of New Media Wales.
It has quickly established itself within the Welsh media landscape and has, some might say, helped raise the Welsh media bar. It is still in its infancy, but I hope you are pleased with its output.
I’m helping out Newsquest behind the scenes, and I’m pleased to say that there are some exciting developments on the horizon for 2022.
The need for a more robust Welsh media was a prime driver behind the development of New Media Wales and the launch of an all-Wales digital news platform with a print offering in the form of The National Wales.
But, and it’s a big but. There’s a need for contemporary news content to be produced and made available beyond its current boundaries within Wales.
Wales is desperately underserved when it comes to providing political output and commentary on audio and visual platforms. The BBC, S4C and ITV dominate the space video-wise, and whilst their daily linear TV bulletins reach an audience, it is an increasingly older demographic. Specifically Welsh politics discussions are limited to a programme each week on the BBC and ITV.
And when it comes to radio, the situation is a mixed bag.
I’m sure we’ve all, at some point, listened to Today, World at One and PM on BBC Radio 4 and shouted: “that’s devolved” during a news item.
The situation may have improved due to the prominence of the devolved administrations during the pandemic, but our “national” broadcasters still see themselves as part of a UK set-up.
Listening over the past week. One of the rare political programmes on BBC Radio Wales, Sunday Supplement, 2 seperate paper reviewers had to be corrected by the presenter when discussing a chosen story that referred to a matter, social care, related to England only. And during the same week on Radio Cymru, a paper reviewer again addressed an issue devolved in Wales, therefore relevant to an audience in England only.
Last week, following the breaking news of a landmark partnership deal, BBC Radio Wales led their news bulletins with news of a major hit and run in the USA.
Shifting this lens has been an effort for many over several years.
The announcement that the partnership deal agreed between the Welsh Labour Government and the Plaid Cymru included the following was welcome news:
• Broadcasting – Explore the creation of a shadow Broadcasting and Communications Authority for Wales, to address our concerns about the current fragility in the media and attacks on its independence. This body would support the use of the Welsh language, particularly in digital and encourage media plurality. We believe broadcasting and communication powers should be devolved to Wales.
• Media financial support – Fund existing and new enterprises to improve Welsh-based journalism to tackle the information deficit.
Changes in technology mean the ability to create and distribute audio and video content simply and affordably. The content can be made accessible on devices and platforms at a time and in a format that suits younger, more mobile audiences.
The plan is to launch two, side by side, services operating under one umbrella.
A National Radio Service- An alternative to BBC Radio 4 and LBC
The National is generating news stories daily. Due to the confines of digital news, many have the potential, and the need, to be discussed further.
There are topics and subjects news stories touch upon that can be explored at greater length in different formats. Most importantly, we have the opportunity to produce news output in an audio form that discusses everything, unashamedly, from a Welsh perspective.
No more shouting “that’s devolved” at your digital radio, smartphone or smart speaker.
A National TV Service – A Welsh CNN
The same can be done in a video format. Regular discussions, a chance to hear about what’s going on in Wales from people who know about Wales, who care about Wales, and an opportunity to put questions to current legislators and would be ones.
Producing short films that discuss real-life issues with the people they affect. I’m currently, thanks to your support, filming and editing a piece on the current housing crisis and how it’s impacting young people in the communities where they grew up.
This is a natural progression and an essential step as we grow the Welsh media landscape. It can benefit from The Nationals daily news output and create impact. Hopefully, its presence will influence the current audio and video output providers in Wales to up their game, placing more of a Welsh focus on their view of politics, current affairs, and news.
So what’s needed?
The platforms we propose to utilise are relatively low cost, with a monthly licence fee of around £100. Thanks to your continued support, a good chunk of the equipment required has been built up over the past months.
What is needed is a talented individual who can coordinate production and support content makers who wish to contribute—starting part-time and as funds allow become full time. Being able to employ someone young, energetic and passionate about media in Wales would ensure its success, whilst also creating a job.
We also want to support content producers and contributors financially. I have already spoken to several podcasters who create relevant content in Wales and wish to collaborate so we will be able to launch an entire weekend scheduled audio service, with some live programming that will be available as podcasts after broadcast.
Video wise, as Byeline Times have successfully shown, we would launch with one, 1 hour, show a week, discussing the issues and topics impacting Wales that week.
Support allowing, the first output will be available early in the new year. Much preparation and research has gone into developing this new phase for New Media Wales, and I hope you consider it worth your continued support.
We have achieved an incredible amount in a relatively short space of time together. There is a real need and massive potential for a platform of this kind in Wales. If you agree, please continue to support the work of New Media Wales[hm1] and spread the message.
This can only succeed as a truly collective enterprise.