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Local media should benefit from Newsquest's £245,000 refund to Welsh government

7 June 2017

Grant money returned to the Welsh Government from Newsquest, after it shut its subbing hub in Newport, should be used to aid local newspapers, the National Union of Journalists has said.

The government gave Newsquest £245,000 in 2015 to expand the sub-editing hub and in 2013-14 the company received more than £95,000 from the Skills Growth Fund.The union has now seen correspondence which said Newsquest had paid back its job creation grant in full.

The subbing hub opened in 2013 and at its peak employed more than 70 people. It edited copy for Newsquest newspapers as far away as Scotland after production staff on local titles were sacked.The hub was closed in March, with the loss of 14 jobs, and the work was moved to a hub in Weymouth, which has since been closed.

John Toner, NUJ Welsh organiser, said:

"The lesson of this sorry tale is that the Welsh government should have used the grant to support local newspapers and fund media start-ups rather than this profitable American-owned publisher. That is why we are asking that the refunded money be used to aid new and struggling news enterprises.

"In our submission to the Culture, Welsh Language and Communication Committee inquiry, News Journalism in Wales, we gave the example of the Port Talbot Magnet, a not-for-profit community co-operative, set up seven years ago with a £10,000 grant from the Carnegie Trust to fill a news blackspot. Despite breaking many stories and being popular with readers, the economic pressures on all businesses in Port Talbot following the steel crisis made it impossible to support a local news service through advertising alone and in September 2016 the paper was closed.This is the sort of enterprise which should have been supported."

A spokesperson for Newsquest confirmed to the Press Gazette that it "believed it would be correct to return the grant, and Newsquest has therefore given back the £245,000 grant in full".

NUJ submission to the Culture, Welsh Language and Communication Committee inquiry, News Journalism in Wales

Tags: , wales, welsh assembly, welsh government, welsh parliament, newsquest, newport, subbing hub, grant, local news matters, local newspapers