The panel will decide which proposals should be given the greenlight in three pilot areas - Wales, Scotland and Tyne Tees and Border in England - for the IFNC scheme, which aims to create a sustainable model for local news provision.
Successful parties will receive a pot of public money to provide multiple news sources in their allocated region - including ITV's regional service - to benefit local people and also foster a vibrant alternative to the BBC's coverage.
Hooper, who recently led a review of the postal sector for Lord Mandelson, was handpicked by creative industries minister Siôn Simon to judge the suitability of lodged bids for the pilots.
He will lead a five-strong panel featuring former Birmingham Post editor Marc Reeves, former BBC Scotland deputy head of news Val Atkinson, former GCap Media chief executive Fru Hazlitt, former ITN political editor Glyn Mathias and Talk About Local founder William Perrin, who previously acted as policy advisor to Tony Blair.
Ofcom's partner for content and standards Stewart Purvis will offer further guidance to the panel as required. The experts will then advise the Department for Culture, Media and Sport about which proposals represent the best value for money, while also delivering the desired plurality in local media sources.
Speaking to the Press Gazette, Hooper said: "These three pilots will provide us with insights into new ways of providing multi-platform news in the Nations, locally and in the regions.
"The winning news consortia will be encouraged to exploit the wide range of today's convergent platforms - ITV/Channel 3, the internet, local commercial radio, community radio, local newspapers.
"The winning news consortia will also be seeking to build innovative business models for revenue generation."
ITV licence-holder in Northern Ireland UTV recently partnered with NWN Media to bid for the Welsh pilot, but faces competition from Tinopolis, the independent production firm behind Question Time.
Tinopolis is also involved with three of Scotland's largest newspaper publishers in a bid for the Scottish pilot, while STV has partnered with ITN and Bauer Media to launch a separate proposal. Trinity Mirror and MacMillan Media are also in the running for the pilot.
Johnston Press and Newsquest have teamed up to move for the Tyne Tees and Border trial, but are up against a separate bid from production company Ten Alps and publisher Trinity Mirror, along with a standalone proposal from UTV.