Victory for standards at Nottingham Evening Post
29 January 2010
The business secretary has decided not to permit Daily Mail and General Trust to scrap an independent editorial board for the Nottingham Evening Post. Journalists have applauded Lord Mandelson's decision.
The paper was once the focus of one of the longest-ever strikes by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) for three years from 1978. It was taken over by Northcliffe Newspapers in 1993, but a number of conditions were imposed by government, including that it should maintain an independent editorial board to oversee key decisions.
Last year, the owners sought to scrap that requirement. The Department of Business Innovation and Skills invited comments.
The NUJ opposed the proposal vigorously. The union's Nottingham branch expressed concerns about editing functions at the Nottingham Evening Post being combined with those for other Northcliffe titles in the East Midlands region. The branch also voiced deep unease about the threat to jobs.
The NUJ also warned that the newspaper and other Northcliffe-owned local titles could lose their individual identity in favour of Northcliffe corporate branding
Lord Mandelson said:
"The interest of ensuring people have access to a sufficiently wide range of views and opinions on both local and national matters and preventing too much influence becoming concentrated in too few hands remain legitimate concerns for the Government.
"The original purpose behind requiring an independent editorial board for the NEP related to the desirability of ensuring the editor of that title remained free to take editorial decisions independent of the title's new owner, Northcliffe. Those concerns remain relevant."