Scottish Conservatives launch plan to support local and national media
Following cross-party talks by Edinburgh Freelance Branch, the Conservatives responded positively by taking up proposals in the NUJ's News Recovery Plan
The Scottish Conservatives have launched a newspaper recovery plan to support the long-term future of the industry.
The plan will support local journalism and local newspapers through additional funding streams, support national media with additional Scottish government advertising spend, rates relief and a journalism foundation.
The plan was drafted following a meeting with the NUJ's Edinburgh Freelance Branch.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"The NUJ is delighted that our discussions with politicians in Scotland have been picked up so positively by the Scottish Conservatives. The union's News Recovery Plan looks at getting the media through the present crisis and then creating an environment which allows quality public interest journalism and a more diverse industry to flourish. Scotland has a long and proud journalism tradition which is now desperately in need of support and funding."
Joyce McMillan, chair of Edinburgh Freelance Branch, said:
"Edinburgh Freelance Branch has been very encouraged by the response from all parties in the Scottish Parliament to our campaigning for a news recovery plan here in Scotland, based on the NUJ-wide plan launched in April.
"We are delighted to welcome this plan launched by the Scottish Conservatives, and we thank shadow economy secretary Maurice Golden MSP for engaging so fully with our ideas. We are seeking to build cross-party support in Scotland for these and other proposals to ensure a bright future for high-quality journalism in Scotland, as we emerge from the Covid crisis.
"We would like to thank all MSPs, MPs and others who have contributed to our discussions so far. We will now be seeking a meeting with Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop, with a view to taking these ideas forward as speedily as possible."
Maurice Golden, Scottish Conservative shadow economy and culture secretary, launched the plan which will:
- Establish a Journalism Foundation which will invest in local journalism, innovative media projects, new star-ups and vital areas of quality and investigative journalism which are no longer supported elsewhere.
- Confer "asset of community value" status on local newspapers, ensuring that titles facing closure, or potential sale to owners who fund little local content, could be preserved for potential community ownership.
- Offer rates relief and other financial support for journalistic co-operatives and local social enterprises taking over titles from major commercial operators and running them as not-for-profit enterprises.
- Ensure that government and agency advertising is strategically invested in innovative journalism and local and hyperlocal news initiatives, as well as in mainstream media.
Maurice Golden said: "Our plan supports local and national papers; from the ground up, through advertising and with support for journalists. A functioning media is absolutely crucial for a well-functioning democracy; there is simply no option, the SNP government must support newspapers and ensure their long-term survival."