Welsh Assembly urged to support quality journalism as MP calls for inquiry into the future of Welsh print news
Liz Saville Roberts - © nuj
28 March 2017
Members of the Welsh Assembly have marked the beginning of the National Union of Journalists' Local News Matters Week with a statement of opinion, calling on local newspapers to be made community assets.
And in a debate later this week in Westminster, Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, will call for an inquiry into the future of Welsh print news
The NUJ urged AMs of all parties to sign the statement, which is the equivalent of an early day motion in the UK's parliament, in support of increasing investment, from a range of sources, for quality local journalism local news provision in Wales.
The statement was raised by Plaid Cymru AMs, Simon Thomas, Bethan Jenkins and Dai Lloyd and reads:
OPIN-2017-0033 – Local News Matters Week
This Assembly calls for:
a. Local papers to be treated as community assets;
b. New rules to prevent local media outlets from closing overnight – they should be offered to potential new owners, including local co-operatives, with the time available to submit a bid for alternative media ownership in advance of any closure;
c. Action by government and employers to stem the relentless job cuts;
d. Increasing investment, from a range of sources, for quality local journalism.
Welsh MPs will have their opportunity to take part in Local News Matters Week in a Westminster Hall debate on Thursday 30 March, on the future provision of news. MPs are also urged to sign the Local News Matters Early Day Motion 1109.
Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, will be speaking in the debate and calling for an inquiry into the future of Welsh print news. She said:
"Our communities both deserve and need a strong local press. As a former local paper news reporter, I am fully aware of the vital role it plays in keeping people informed of the issues and stories they interact with on a day to day basis must be recognised.
“Wales’ strong local press tradition, in both Welsh and English, is currently under threat. The closing of many newspapers and the severe cuts faced by others is eroding both local democratic accountability and our sense of community. Local papers have a critically-important role to play in Wales, where there is a lack of media plurality and a concern that an absence of scrutiny and robust debate threatens to result in a democratic deficit. That is why we will be using Thursday’s debate in Parliament to call for an inquiry into the future of Welsh print news.
“Despite the cuts, many local journalists continue to create high-quality news stories. Their contribution to our communities must be celebrated and a solution must be found to stop the slow decline in local news and ensure our talented journalists have the local outlets we need."
Tonight (Tuesday 28 March) the NUJ will be holding a Local News Matters event in the Welsh Assembly at 18.30 in Conference Rooms C and D on the first floor of Tŷ Hywel. All welcome.
Podcast from Paul Scott, NEC member for Wales