DM2021: Future of the Media

  • 21 May 2021

Campaigns to support local journalism, a review of newspaper business models, Local Democracy Reporters and support for academic publishers

Conference agreed the union would work with its industrial councils to “keep sustainability of high-quality local journalism at the top of the union’s campaigning agenda”.

This would be achieved by:

  •  Supporting members in the provincial press in their efforts to ensure they have the time and resources to do their job properly.
  •  Lobbying parliament for public subsidies to sustain local journalism covering issues related to public services not just local government.
  • Working with branches to highlight the importance of high-quality local news services to strong and democratic communities and support efforts to develop new models of sustainable local public interest journalism. 

The work of Local Democracy Reporters was praised in a motion from the JPIMedia Group Chapel, saying the scheme had proved “the importance of this kind of public interest journalism in the health of our democracy and the deficit created when many private sector media organisations sacrificed this kind of reporting in favour of what they perceived to be more profitable content”.

Conference agreed that it is not appropriate the same media organisations are now being paid, through the awarding of LDRS contracts, to hire reporters to produce this local authority content, with the licence fee payer footing the bill. The NEC was instructed by DM to make the union’s position on the future management of the scheme clear to both the BBC and the government, and to make submissions in this regard during any future reviews of the LDRS.

Conference supported a motion calling for an urgent review of the financial returns of local news companies in Britain and Ireland and the setting up of meetings of chapels and group chapels in companies where the business model is shown to be putting the future at risk to decide on campaigns to persuade employers to change course before more damage is done.

Also agreed was a Magazine and Book Industrial Council call for “a campaign that raises awareness of the complex and vital work of professionals in editorial, marketing and production roles within academic publishers, and promotes their voice within the debate about the future of academic publishing”. 

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