Tag Archives: lettertogovt

Letter to Govt. pt6: “How to fund quality local journalism”

The following is the last part of 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:

“How to fund quality local journalism”

The bottom has fallen out of the traditional publishing business model–and with it goes the hefty dividends expected by shareholders (e.g. £48.4m in 2008 for the Trinity Mirror Group). The future of local quality journalism can only remain with the current crop of regional newspaper publishers if they radically change their expectations, and innovate.

That might not happen. If it doesn’t, they will die off, and the future of quality local journalism will take a huge – but not definitive – blow. Then the future lies with new initiatives and the local communities themselves – passionate and entrepreneurial people, only some of whom will be journalists. What about local council initiatives to publish newspapers and local information? That’s not the way to go – covered in Part 3.

But how to fund it? Here are eight suggestions for the future of local journalism funding: Continue reading

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Letter to Govt pt5: Opportunities for “ultra-local” media services

The following is the fifth of a series of responses to the government inquiry into the future of local and regional media. Andy Price looks at the opportunities for ultra-local media services. Blog comments will be submitted to the inquiry as well. If you wish to add a blog post to the submission please add a link to one of the OJB posts – a linkback will be added at the end.

Opportunities for “ultra-local” media services

Over the last few years one of the few, if not the only positive development in the regional press has been the dramatic growth of “ultra-local” or hyper local news. Often this is in the form of online participatory journalism, mixing traditional professionally produced news with a wide range of user generated content.

This has two major benefits. It grows significant traffic to newspaper websites, offering vital opportunities for revenue generation and develops the civic and democratic role of the media by allowing new avenues for discussion and debate, enhancing the local public sphere and maintaining a plurality of perspectives. It also widens and flattens the ‘market’ of news production, creating a new environment that integrates citizens as news producers in an entirely original and empowering way.

Looking at the existing geographical franchises of most regional publishers it is often the case that the local newspaper website is the only local digital platform that offers both participation and discussion of issues of civic interest. As well as the independent coverage of issues of relevance and significance to the citizen. Continue reading

Letter to Govt. pt3 extended: Should council news operations be run like the BBC?

As part of the OJB’s response to  the government’s inquiry into the future of local and regional media, Nick Booth looks at the role of local authorities in regional journalism. Blog comments will be submitted as well.

I talk to a lot of people who work in council communications departments. They’re all conscious that the regional press is in trouble. If they’ve not recently lost a local paper they’ve certainly seen local journalists lose their jobs.

They consistently tell me one thing: “Because there are fewer reporters it’s easier to get coverage. Those who are left are really grateful for the stuff we give them. More and more they run it verbatim”. Continue reading

Letter to Govt. pt3: Should councils publish newspapers? A response to the Media Committee

As part of a group response to  the government‘s inquiry into the future of local and regional media, Paul Bradshaw looks at the role of local authorities in regional journalism. Blog comments will be submitted to the inquiry as well as the blog posts.

So. The Committee for Culture, Media and Sport want responses on “The appropriateness and effectiveness of print and electronic publishing initiatives undertaken directly by public sector bodies at the local level”

The question of what public sector bodies should be allowed to publish, how that affects local journalism, the local economy, and local democracy, is one of the most difficult to resolve – not least because it involves so many interconnected elements.

The first problem is that any discussion runs the risk of conflating a number of separate but interlinked elements:

  • local councils and local democracy are not the same thing; 
  • local newspapers and local journalism are also two different things.

Whatever model emerges must recognise that papers are not the only places where public discussion takes place, and print journalists are not the only people holding power to account.

Continue reading

Letter to Govt. pt2: The opportunities and implications of BBC partnerships with local media

As part of a group response to  the government‘s inquiry into the future of local and regional media, Adrian Monck looks at the implications of BBC partnerships with regional media. Blog comments will be submitted to the inquiry as well. If you wish to add a blog post to the submission please add a link to one of the OJB posts – a linkback will be added at the end.

 

A long time ago, I wrote the plan to run ITV News in London (replacing LNN), modelled on the operating structure for Five News. It involved reformatting shows and cutting staffing to the bare minimum required to get on air.

Nothing wrong with that. It was a more efficient use of resources.

But it wasn’t really designed to involve the process you and I would know asjournalism. It was intended to produce a happy simulation of a television news broadcast to a standard adequate enough to satisfy regulators.

Five News shared resources – as did the new ITV London when it started – with the rest of ITN. The biggest and most expensive of these resources were the satellite trucks and needless to say, the deployment of said trucks went to the people paying the most money – ITV’s national news and Channel 4 News.

The editorial decision-making process played second-fiddle to the negotiation and horse-trading around satellite dishes, technicians’ overtime and working hours without which stories and guests (even cheaper!) couldn’t make it on air. Continue reading

Letter to Govt. pt1: “The impact of newspaper closures on independent local journalism and access to local information”

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