The following is the first in a series of responses to the government inquiry into the future of local and regional media. We will be submitting the whole – along with blog comments – to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. This post, by Alex Lockwood, looks at the first:
“The impact of newspaper closures on independent local journalism and access to local information”
The final views of the committee will depend on how much the inquiry sees local newspapers responsible for local journalism – a little, a lot, or completely.
Writing in the Observer on Sunday, Henry Porter pretty much called them the same thing. For many who work there, the death of newspapers is disastrous for access to local information, not least due to the historical positions those papers have held.
The closures of the Glasgow East News and Ayrshire Extra, the Black Country Mail Extra, Wolverhampton AdNews, Daventry Post and Ashby Herald, the Lincoln Chronicle, the Northallerton, Thirsk and Bedale Times, and dozens of others that have either closed or felt the swingeing impact of mergers and office cuts, are devastating for their communities. These papers have been the homes for ‘hard’ journalism – reporting of the essential court and council stories that really matter to local lives.
Los Angeles Times reporter, Joe Matthews, quoted widely on this, has made clear the dire implications for democracy of the loss of quality journalism. Matthews wrote: “Much of the carnage of the ongoing media industry can’t be measured or seen: corruption undiscovered, events not witnessed, tips about problems that never reach anyone’s ears because those ears have left the newsroom.”
Those trained ears may have left the newsroom – but are they the only ears open to the whispers of local corruption? Continue reading