Brands’ digital safety concerns, coupled with evidence to suggest that people are more likely to trust their local news outlets, ought to present an opportunity for media brands if the issue of scale can be addressed.

“Trust in local news is actually quite high, a lot higher than in what most would consider mainstream media,” according to Israel Mirsky, executive director of the OMD media agency

“It’s about 76% of folks trust local news versus around 50% for national media,” he told Beet.TV recently.

“The problem is scale. Achieving scale through local news is challenging. Sorting through all of the individual organizations is a problem and there isn’t a great way of aggregating that inventory right now. We’re starting to look for alternative solutions.”

One possible answer comes from United For News, a global coalition that includes agencies, tech platforms and not-for-profit organizations that is working to develop a list of “brand-safe” local media for advertisers.

Managing director Tom Jenen acknowledged that news content can sometimes be a challenge for brands. But rather than abandoning news altogether, he argued that “we need to find the right way to fund news and brand advertising is a strong way to do that”.

Patch, the hyperlocal digital news platform, is finding some success with an alternative approach based on local transactions, says CEO Warren St John.

He told Axios that Patch, which operates local news sites in 1,277 communities across the US and uses software to generate data-driven stories in addition to using a team of reporters, is seeking to move away from a reliance on advertising.

Over the past year it has more than doubled its revenues generated from selling access to its local calendars – these cost a dollar per day per town to buy; the average transaction amounts to $48 as people buy multiple towns and multiple days – and he hopes to tap into more such local transactions.

Rather than subscriptions or memberships of the sort advocated for local media by Facebook and Google, St John believes the future lies with simply asking local people to pay for a local service rather than paying for news.

“Payments is probably best highest margin scalable solution for local,” he said.

Meanwhile two US legacy print businesses with hundreds of local titles are reported to be merging. A combined Gannett and GateHouse Media could make cost savings of $200m while potentially opening up new opportunities to sell local advertising at scale.

Sourced from Beet.TV, Axios; additional content by WARC staff