NUJ president Andy Smith speaking at TUC in Liverpool 2014. Image copyright Sian Jones by Tim Lezard The TUC has called on the government to hold an inquiry into the state of local newspapers. NUJ president Andy Smith moved the motion at TUC in Congres …
by Tim Lezard
The TUC has called on the government to hold an inquiry into the state of local newspapers.
NUJ president Andy Smith moved the motion at TUC in Congress, saying the inquiry should look at consideration of different models of ownership, how to encourage a more diverse local press and to see how titles could be protected as community assets.
He said: “On a daily basis we’re called upon to support our members dealing with the redundancies, the reorganisations, the stress, the frustration as they watch papers they care passionately about being slowly destroyed by owners protecting absurd profit margins and managing decline rather than investing in quality journalism and planning for the future.
“Despite the bad news, I do believe local newspapers have a future. But it’s not a future where recycled press releases and readers’ photos are thrown together under a regional masthead, one line on a balance sheet of some multi-national giant, vulnerable to decisions made by people who know precious little about the titles they own and nothing at all about where you live.”
The motion was seconded by Nigel Gawthrope, a Cambridge city councillor and Unite delegate, who said: “”Local newspapers are an important way of people in my community finding out what I and other councillors are doing, and ensuring that our actions being scrutinised and we are being held to account.
“We still have the Cambridge News and thankfully it is still supported by the local community. But many local newspapers have closed and many have drastically downsized; print jobs have been lost as titles have become history and circulation has fallen.
“Journalist jobs have been lost and those that remain are so over-stretched they are forced to overly rely on press releases from the council and other organisations.”
140 newspapers have closed since March 2011 and a quarter of local government areas are not covered by a daily regional newspaper.
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