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NUJ calls for new Assembly committee to safeguard Welsh media

7 June 2016

 The NUJ is calling on the National Assembly for Wales to establish a media and communications committee.

While media policy has not been devolved to the Welsh Government, the NUJ believes that members of the national assembly are perfectly placed to scrutinise media developments in Wales at a time when the provision of quality national, regional and local news is being diminished. It could also look at ways to support Welsh media at a time of crisis in the industry.

Without an effective, plural and robust Welsh media, matters of great importance in Wales, including national and local politics, law and order, education, business, health and the environment, could go unreported.

This democratic deficit is unhealthy for the nation and exists at a time when the Welsh Government is to acquire additional law-making powers.

Last week, Trinity Mirror announced it would be withdrawing the North Wales Daily Post’s Welsh Affairs correspondent, who covers Assembly matters at the Senedd, from Cardiff.

Members at the NUJ’s Delegate Meeting, in Southport this April, passed a motion, proposed by the union’s Cardiff and South East Wales branch and Welsh Executive Council, calling on the Welsh Assembly to establish a committee that would “monitor developments in the media industry and, with the input of experts, recommend solutions”.

In the past 18 months, Wales has seen budget cuts at the BBC and S4C, newspaper office closures, media job losses and the acquisition of Local World titles by Trinity Mirror, giving that company a virtual monopoly of the nation’s daily newspapers.

There are fears there has been a move away from quality and public interest journalism, especially online, and towards more trivial click target-driven content.

Paul Scott, NUJ national executive member for Wales, said:

“At a time of crisis for the media in Wales, it is vital that those elected to serve the interests of the Welsh people properly review, scrutinise and address the diminution of quality journalistic output.
“The democratic deficit created as a result of this decline is a matter of the utmost importance for politicians of all parties and we believe a media and communications committee could go a long way towards demonstrating that our decision makers fully appreciate the role the media plays in holding the powerful to account as well as putting the spotlight on, and giving a voice to, ordinary people.
“Access to quality journalism is a fundamental civic right and, though media organisations appear to be concentrating on short term measures and get-rich-quick gimmicks, it is the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly to assess and address concerns about the media in the long term.” 

A media manifesto for Wales: visible, accountable, diverse

Tags: , wales, welsh assembly, committee, media and communications committee, local news matters