National Union of Journalists response to Welsh government grant for hyperlocal newspapers
2 October 2017
John Toner, NUJ Welsh national organiser, said:
"The National Union of Journalists welcomes the Welsh government's £200,000 grant to fund hyperlocal news start-ups over two years. This is a recognition that Wales has not been served well by the main news groups; too many titles have been lost and merged and journalist jobs lost.
"The grant for hyperlocals should come with strings attached to ensure quality journalism and public interest reporting. It should offer an opportunity for journalists recently made redundant to be paid to work on them and to train community journalists to produce high-quality, ethical newspapers and websites. There must also be safeguards to ensure these new publications are truly independent, despite the nature of the funding.
"This news comes as Newsquest has taken over The Leader and several weeklies in mid and north Wales from the independently-owned NWN Media. It was Newsquest which pulled the plug on a subbing hub in Newport, which once employed 70 people, and was forced to repay a government grant. It is also notorious for cost cutting and paying poverty wages.
"The union has called for the government to look at a range of new models to support a vital media, including giving newspapers community asset status to prevent newspapers from closing overnight and allowing titles to be offered to potential new owners."