NI assembly call for evidence on media sustainability

  • 18 Feb 2021

NUJ members urged to respond to consultation.

The Northern Ireland Assembly's All Party Group (APG) on Press Freedom and Media Sustainability has invited industry stakeholders to submit evidence on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and their views on the long-term sustainability of media organisations.

The NUJ has been involved in establishing this new group and is encouraging NUJ members who live and work in Northern Ireland to respond to the consultation.

Local media workers and outlets across the industry are encouraged to submit written evidence about their experience of the pandemic, as well as give their views on the long-term viability of the local media and how government can help the media industry.

The call for evidence will help to inform the development of a recovery plan that will allow local media outlets to survive not just beyond the immediate COVID-19 crisis, but well into the future.

The group was formed in January 2021 with the intention of tackling threats and harassment targeted at journalists in Northern Ireland, as well the as broader questions about the long-term sustainability of the local media.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"The NUJ has been instrumental in the development of this group and we welcome the opportunity to work with different stakeholders to help support the media in Northern Ireland. I would encourage members to take part in this consultation and the union centrally will also be submitting evidence."

Matthew O'Toole MLA, APG chair, said:

"A viable, sustainable local media is crucial to supporting communities, local economies and local democracy. The existing crisis facing media outlets has been hugely exacerbated by the economic impact of the pandemic. The potential disappearance of local newspapers threatens not just the people who own papers, but the resilience of the local communities they serve. Local newspapers bind communities together, underpin economies and mitigate against isolation. They are a critical meeting point for people and places. The APG is keen to hear from local stakeholders of all sizes and work with them to explore radical ideas to make our local media sustainable into the future."

Mike Nesbitt MLA, APG vice-chair, said:

"The freedom of the media to report and challenge is critical to the health of any democracy. This is especially true of Northern Ireland, where our Assembly lacks an official opposition and a second chamber like the Seanad Éireann in Dublin or House of Lords in London. That makes the role of the media even more important than elsewhere. It is vital MLAs understand their concerns and threats."

The deadline for written submissions is 26 March 2021.

Guidance for all written evidence:

The APG welcome submissions from any interested stakeholders.

We will be much better able to use your work if your submission includes:

  • who the submission is from and if it is in an organisational or personal capacity
  • the name and size of your organisation if applicable
  • your contact details and whether you are willing to appear at a meeting of the group.

Submissions should be in a single Word or PDF document and emailed to the office of the chair: [email protected] with the subject heading: APG written evidence submission – YOUR NAME/ORGANISATION.

Guiding questions for respondents:

Please note that these questions are for guidance only and should be viewed as a starting point for submissions rather than a restriction upon them. You may answer as few or as many as you would like in your response.

  • How has the economic challenge of the pandemic impacted your business?
  • What impact have lockdown restrictions had on your advertising revenue?
  • Has your proportion of government advertising altered during the pandemic?
  • What is the impact on your staffing levels in terms of furloughs and redundancies? Do you anticipate this to further change in the next year?
  • How has the pandemic altered your freelance budget?
  • If you are a freelance journalist, how have you been impacted by the pandemic?
  • What do you see as the key short, medium and long-term challenges to the sustainability of media outlets in Northern Ireland?
  • What financial support, if any, have you received from the NI executive over the past year?
  • What specific elements of your business would benefit most from financial support e.g. digitisation, staff training, premises/rates, distributionand delivery systems?
  • What is your view on how the NI executive should interact with the local media?

The NUJ has published a series of News Recovery Plans, available on the union's website:

From Health Crisis to Good News: A recovery plan for the news industry in Northern Ireland

As Northern Ireland comes to grips with the damage wrought by the Covid-19 crisis, the National Union of Journalists, UK and Ireland, is calling for a...

05 November 2020
From Health Crisis to Good News

A recovery plan for the news industry by the NUJ.

16 April 2020

Return to listing