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NUJ launches local news matters week of action today

NUJ event in Sunderland today  -  © David Allan

24 March 2017

Union members and reps from across the UK and Ireland have stepped up to the challenge and organised events and activities as part of this union-wide campaign.

Seamus Dooley, acting NUJ general secretary, said:

"As acting general secretary I’m pleased to launch our campaign by calling on every member of the union to play their part in defending local news. Local News matters, and if we as journalists do not stand up for journalism who will  meet the challenge?

"In the coming days I would encourage every member to attend an event, send a message of support –  even buy a newspaper produced by NUJ members. Let’s celebrate quality local journalism as well as demanding fair pay and fair play for regional journalists. Local journalism is vital for democracy and the protection of journalism is part of our core function."

As part of the launch today, the NUJ and TUC have teamed up to publish a public pledge calling for investment in quality local journalism and for the UK government to launch an inquiry to examine the local media crisis. Sign, support and share the pledge.

Helen Goodman MP, chair of the NUJ parliamentary group, said:

"Effective democracy depends upon voters being informed, and local media plays a critical role in this. From informing citizens of their local democratic institutions to holding politicians to account to acting as a watchdog, local news is an integral mechanism for public engagement and understanding.
"As well as keeping people informed on locally and nationally significant stories, local news encourages active citizenship and a sense of pride in your local area.
"At times when local news publications are having their budgets drastically cut, their operations diminished and even wiped out, it is incredibly important that we celebrate and support our cherished local news outlets."

A motion has been tabled in the UK parliament urging the government to take steps to support investment in local news.

EDM 1109: Local News Matters

That this House celebrates the importance of quality local and regional news and whether provided online, by photographers, newspapers or local broadcasters; believes that access to local and regional news is essential to the quality of life, informed citizenship, and promotion of a flourishing of democracy in all our communities; recognises the challenges posed to the sustainability of local news provision; notes that a study by Press Gazette shows that over 300 local newspaper titles have closed over the past decade, with other titles reducing the frequency of publication; further notes that thousands of editorial roles have been lost, together with widespread reduction to the staffing levels associated with front­line reporters based in the community, picture desk editors and photographers; regrets the impact of moving the production of local news out of localities they serve which effects the quality of news coverage; and supports the National Union of Journalists’ Local News Matters campaign, which urges Government devolved bodies and local authorities, to take active steps to support sustainable investment in professional local and regional news provision online, in newspapers and on radio and television.

There are lots of events and activities planned across the UK and Ireland over the coming days. The campaign includes the NUJ's Sunderland Shields and Hartlepool branch event today at lunchtime at the Sunderland Civic Centre. Oxford branch have been meeting MPs today. Derry and North West Ireland branch have secured support from Derry city and Strabane district council, Mid Ulster district council, and Fermanagh and Omagh district council. Comeragh municipal district council and Waterford city and county council have passed motions supporting the campaign. Tonight, Bristol branch has organised a public meeting. On Saturday the Irish South West branch has organised a conference in Limerick. On Saturday morning the Norfolk branch will be leafleting in town, at lunchtime the Manchester and Salford branch have organised a film showing. On Monday, the Centre for Investigative Journalism is holding a training workshop for journalists in Glasgow. On Tuesday there is a meeting in parliament to launch new research about cuts to local news and the impact on democracy. Bethan Jenkins AM will host an event at the National Assembly for Wales on Tuesday and in the evening there will be a London independent broadcasting and new media branch meeting. On Wednesday, the Leeds and Wakefield branch will be leafleting outside Leeds train station. On Friday, there will be a national Future of News conference in Edinburgh. Birmingham and Coventry branch have organised an event for Friday evening and to round-off the week there will be an NUJ reps summit in Manchester on Saturday 1 April. Go to the NUJ LNM campaign page for more details for every event.

Tags: , local campaign, local journalism, local media, local news, local news matters, local news matters week, lnm_nuj, local newspapers, local radio, local tv, parliamentary group