Journalists welcome government report on sustainable media

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

A government review of local and regional newspapers has been widely welcomed by journalists.

It will be looking into sustainable funding models, in order to tackle news which is “untrustworthy.”

The National Union of Journalists’ general secretary, Michell Stanistreet, said that the union would “fully engage in the process”:

"Quality journalism is at the heart of a healthy democracy - as Theresa May has rightly acknowledged. It helps to keep people informed, combats fake news, holds those in power to account and promotes community engagement.

"The media industry is in crisis today, more than 300 local newspapers have been closed in the past decade and more than half of all parliamentary constituencies do not have a dedicated daily local newspaper. We have consistently highlighted the severity of this situation – our local communities deserve better. Hollowed-out shells of titles are no substitute for properly-resourced titles, with real investment in the provision of news and information that communities are crying out for.”

The Prime Minister made the announcement at the Pankhurst Centre in Manchester yesterday afternoon.

"The NMA welcomes this announcement today on behalf of the national, regional and local news media industry. This review acknowledges the importance of journalism in a democratic society, the vital role that the press takes in holding the powerful to account and producing verified news which informs the public," said David Dinsmore, News Media Association chairman.

"Viable business models must be found that ensure a wide variety of media are able to have a long and healthy future. Through digital platforms, news content is more widely consumed than ever before but the revenues to sustain the investment in that quality content are challenged. This review on a sustainable future is very welcome."

More details have emerged about what the review will cover.

These include: 

  • An overall health check on news media, with a focus on local and regional written press; 
  • The range of news available to people and the business models to sustain these;
  • How journalism is adapting to digital and online platforms;
  • The digital advertising supply chain;
  • The rise of ‘clickbait’ and lower quality news

"Robust high quality journalism is important for public debate and scrutiny - but as print circulations decline and more readers move online, the press faces an uncertain future,” said Culture Secretary, Matt Hancock.

“This review will look at the sustainability of the national, regional and local press, how content creators are appropriately rewarded for their online creations, and ensure that the UK has a vibrant and independent and plural free press as one of the cornerstones of our public debate."  

A panel of experts will be appointed in the coming months to lead the review ,with the final report expected early next year.