Nasty little campaign
A couple of weeks ago the County Council’s magazine Northumberland News was attacked in an article in the Independent. They said council magazines were ‘undermining commercial newspaper businesses’.
Yes, some council publications carry advertising but 45% of them don’t. Ads comprise less than 10% of another third, including, by the look of it, the Northumberland News. Only four per cent of them publish more than quarterly. Are they really a serious threat to local weekly and evening newspapers?
Councils need to publish them to give their electorate information which newspapers won’t carry. Democracy will suffer if they are not allowed to do this.
The National Union of Journalists, to which I belong, can comment even-handedly on this because it has members working in both areas.
The only outcome of this nasty little campaign will be to make journalists working on council newspapers redundant. It won’t make viable regional newspapers which are struggling, whether because of blogs and the web or the economic downturn or the insatiable quest for increased profits rather than re-investment in the product.