Local newspapers should become “community assets”
The Chartered Institute of Journalists has sent a letter of support to MP Jonathan Edwards, applauding his support for local newspapers.
Mr Edwards has called on culture and media secretary Jeremy Hunt to nominate local papers as community assets under the Localism Act 2011.
Plaid Cymru MP Edwards hopes that if local newspapers were put into the “community assets” category, they could not be closed quickly, as there would have to be a period of consultation, which would allow time for other people to bid for the papers.
He said: “Welsh newspapers are a treasured part of our heritage, reflecting a mix of local news, views and sports coverage. They are a place where many excellent journalists work and become part of their communities.”
Chairman of the CIoJ’s Professional Practices Board, Amanda Brodie, said: “Many of our members have been in the industry for upwards of 30 years, and none of us can recall a time of greater job losses and title contraction. This is arguably the greatest crisis ever to hit our profession, and it is a silent cancer which will have far-reaching effects long after Lord Justice Leveson has put down his pen.
“Local newspapers are the training grounds of the journalists of the future. They are much more likely to adhere to the code of conduct, because they are accountable to the communities which they serve. They also fulfil a vital role in democracy and in their community, as Mr Edwards has pointed out. “
The Institute is also planning a meeting soon with Louise Mensch MP, to discuss the crisis in local papers. She secured a debate in Westminster recently about the future of the local press, after mergers and job losses at her local paper in Northants, owned by Johnston Press.
Notes to Editors
1. Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.