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Media ownership in Wales

Thousands of media jobs have disappeared in Wales during the past two decades, but its people's thirst for news hasn’t.

Newspaper titles – which were profitable and viable – have been closed at a week’s notice, areas of Wales have become news deserts overnight and many freelances, redundant and underemployed journalists are looking for work.

Faced with these problems, and an increasing avalanche of job cuts, the NUJ in Wales has been considering new ways of providing employment and alternative forms of media ownership.

Community assets

The union has urged the Welsh government to consider allowing newspapers threatened with closure to be protected by being given "community asset" status.

Like health and education, providing reliable and informative local news is a public service and communities need newspapers.

The Localism Act 2012 enables local councils to determine "community assets" within their communities.

The NUJ says this could limit owners' ability to close publications overnight and allow more time for consultation on their future and new owners to lodge bids.

The fate of local publications should be seen as too important to be left solely to the whim of media groups and chief executives from outside Wales, the union says.

It points out that the national assembly and the Welsh government have a democratic mandate to support local jobs and industry in Wales and are stakeholders in local newspapers by virtue of their (still) large advertising spend.

Co-operative model

NUJ members have helped set up new titles based on novel models of ownership. Some have been sole proprietors filling a news gap where titles have been closed – such as the Caerphilly Observer.

The Port Talbot MagNet is an NUJ initiative which has established a members' not-for-profit co-op. It has established an online and print presence to help plug the gap caused by title closures.

Professional training organised through NUJ Training Wales is helping freelances and newly redundant journalists learn skills that can help them establish enterprises.

The NUJ in Wales is also acting as a broker by passing on information about these developments and potential new models of ownership.

It is working on members' behalf to make sure we create sustainable businesses, providing sustainable employment, which uphold NUJ terms and conditions.