Welsh government called on to fund public interest journalism
10 May 2018
The NUJ has welcomed a report which has called on the Welsh government to fund public interest journalism, because the commercial model is failing.
Bethan Sayed AM, chair of the National Assembly for Wales’s Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, in her foreward to the report Read All About It – Inquiry into News Journalism, said that Wales had been disproportionately affected by the drop in newspaper circulations which have not been offset by digital news, job losses in the media industry and newspaper mergers and closures. She said:
"We have considered whether some model of direct support from government for the provision of commercial journalism should be developed. There are clear difficulties with this, not least to ensure independence and editorial freedom. Despite this, the precarious state of news journalism in Wales is such that serious consideration should now be given to some way of supporting public interest journalism in Wales."
Pamela Morton, NUJ organiser Wales, said:
"The Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee's report is a timely intervention as the Welsh press is in crisis from a lack of proper funding in quality journalism and a lack of media plurality. The NUJ welcomes many of the committee's recommendations, many of which reflect the union's submission to the inquiry. Too often, too many Welsh communities are not having their voice represented in the Welsh press and on news websites.
"The committee has recognised that supporting public interest journalism is a priority. Wales continues to be badly served by the main news groups, with too many titles lost and merged, and journalists' jobs lost. We look forward to working with the Welsh government in supporting new start-ups and hyperlocals and to continue press for investment in Welsh language journalism, including a vibrant and properly resourced S4C."
The report's recommended that the Welsh government should:
- Formally support public interest journalism.
- Consider establishing publicly-funded arm’s length news hubs, in light of the lack of market viability of local news provision in many areas of Wales.
- Nurture and encourage hyperlocals to encourage new entrants to the market.
- Use the £100,000 funding in 2018-19 and 2019-20 for a contestable scheme that is available to both new entrants and to support innovation and sustainability among current operators.
- Carry out a full evaluation of the success of the £100k funding after the first year to inform decisions about how the funding should be used in future.
- Carry out an audit of its, and local government's, spending on advertising statutory notices.
- Consider how Google and Facebook can support news provision in Wales.
- Reconsider its decision not to establish an independent media forum so it can investigate sustainable business models for news journalism in Wales.
- Review the BBC’s Local Democracy Reporting Service.
- Commit to a continued investment in Welsh language journalism at the current level at least.