Local News Matters
4 April 2015
The NUJ's Local News Matters campaign is a response to the year-on-year cuts in jobs and closure of newspaper titles. Thousands of editorial roles in local and regional press have been lost and, according to a study by the Press Gazette, more than 300 newspapers have closed in the past decade.
Read all the news from the Local News Matters campaign.
These cuts pose a threat to local democracy:
- local politicians are not being held to account,
- voters are not being given a range of views and
- voters are deprived of the information they require to make judgements when voting in elections.
We need local papers to ensure democratic scrutiny, accountability and to encourage informed and active citizenship.
That is why the NUJ's Delegate Meeting 2016 in Southport voted to hold a week of action in support of local and regional press.
Digital newsrooms are transforming the way journalists are expected to work. Despite taking on many changes, journalists have not seen their pay improve and are experiencing heavy workloads because they are expected to bring in stories, cover events, produce videos and podcasts and use social media.
Picture desk employees and staff photographers are being cut across the board and production is being moved away from local papers to subbing hubs many miles away.
The NUJ has always robustly fought to keep jobs and members have taken strike action in protest against the loss of posts throughout the UK as production is moved miles from their community and newspaper groups are replacing professional journalists and photographers with so-called user-generated copy.
Following a 10-day strike which won support from local MPs, the London Assembly and readers, the NUJ and Newsquest cut a deal.
Local newspapers and their websites are the most trusted form of the media, read by more than 30 million people each week. People expect their local newspaper to be their watchdog, keeping tabs on the decisions made by local politicians, defending local services, supporting the local football team and giving a voice to the community.
The NUJ has launched the Local News Matters campaign to reclaim a vital, vigorous press that is at the heart of the community it serves and is owned and operated in the public interest.
As part of this, we have called for:
- a short, sharp national inquiry into the state of local news.
- local papers to become community assets to prevent newspaper titles closing overnight and to give potential new owners, including local co-operatives, the time to put together a bid for a paper.
- action to stem the job cuts and attack on quality journalism.
- research into new models for local journalism, levies, tax breaks and other measures to fund community media.
What you can do:
- Ask your MP to support the local news matters campaign.
- Read about the NUJ industry summit for newspapers and agencies on Saturday 25 April in Birmingham.
- Follow us on Twitter @NUJofficial
Monopolising local news: Is there an emerging local democratic deficit in the UK due to the decline of local newspapers? by Gordon Ramsay and Martin Moore, of the Centre for the Study of Media, Communication and Power, King's College London, May 2016. Key findings:
- Four publishers account for almost two-thirds (73 per cent) of local newspaper titles across the UK (Trinity Mirror, Johnston Press, Newsquest and Tindle).
- More than two-thirds of Local Authority Districts (LADs) and over half of Parliamentary constituencies (330 of 650) are not served by a dedicated daily local newspaper;
- In 165 of 380 (LADs) in England, Scotland and Wales (43 per cent) a single commercial publisher has a monopoly of print circulation and in 69 per cent of LADs a single publisher controls more than 70 per cent of newspaper circulation.
- Government subsidies given to local media, which run to hundreds of millions of pounds, are not spent on promoting innovation or plurality, or on addressing the democratic deficit.
Media Standards Trust: Addressing the Democratic Deficit in Local News through Positive Plurality. Or, why we need a UK alternative of the Knight News Challenge October 2014