Manchester councils urged to advertise in local media
30 March 2009
All ten local authorities in Greater Manchester have been urged to demonstrate their commitment to local newspapers by guaranteeing to place more public notices and council adverts in the titles.
The call from more than sixty councillors, MPs and NUJ members from the Manchester Evening News (MEN) and other Guardian Media Group weeklies who attended a Stand Up for Journalism meeting at Manchester Town Hall on Friday.
The MEN and other titles are facing substantial office closures and almost eighty redundancies among journalists, more than seventy among other staff.
According to Judy Gordon, mother of the MEN chapel, who addressed the meeting, the cuts are triggered in part by management at the Guardian Media Group siphoning off revenue from the Manchester papers to fill the coffers of its London-based companion, The Guardian itself.
The meeting heard that local newspapers were in effect being penalised by councils such as Salford who had retaliated to what they regard as unfavourable coverage of council stories by withholding advertising from some titles.
Jim Battle, deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, told the audience he wants all ten authorities in effect to put their money where their mouth is to help save local newspapers and journalists threatened with redundancy.
Peter Murray, NUJ vice president, who also spoke at the meeting, said:
"There’s now widespread agreement that defending jobs in print, in broadcasting or in new media is part of a fight to retain strong public services, under attack from executives who are more concerned about their balance sheets, shareholders or government targets than they are about our role as journalists to scrutinise and question those who hold public office.”