NUJ publishes plan to reinvigorate local journalism
9 June 2009
The NUJ has today published an eight-point plan to reinvigorate local journalism and has written to Ben Bradshaw, the UK's new culture minister, to urge him to back the plan.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, has also called for face-to-face talks about the cutbacks hitting jobs in newsrooms.
Andy Burnham, the previous culture chief, brought the local media industry together for a major meeting in April following a call for an industry summit by the NUJ.
Jeremy Dear's letter includes details of the proposed package of measures that would boost editorial investment, strengthen local journalism and provide the stimulus needed to get new local media models off the ground.
In his letter to the minister about the current economic situation, Jeremy said said:
"There are many options open to government and no single solution but every decision – from media ownership rules to strategic use of government advertising, from training to the funding of public service broadcasting – must have as a benchmark how it helps to promote quality journalism."
The NUJ economic stimulus plan calls for:
- The reform of cross-media ownership rules with a strengthened public interest test.
- A hard and fast commitment to ring-fence licence fee funding for the BBC.
- A levy introduced on commercial operators who benefit from quality public service content – including local news – but do not contribute to its production.
- Tax breaks for local media who meet clearly defined public purposes.
- Tax credits for individuals who buy quality media.
- Direct support to help establish new genuinely local media organisations.
- Strategic use of central and local government advertising.
- Support for training opportunities that open access to journalism.
The plan comes as the UK government is finalising its Digital Britain report.
More than 130 MPs have signed a parliamentary early day motion that "calls on the Government to explore innovative solutions to preserve local journalism and to ensure that state support, either in the form of deregulatory measures or financial help, is given only where firm guarantees on investment in local journalism are secured."