On the Media – Is it too late for the local papers?

Talk Wednesday 8th April, 2009

What is the importance of local newspapers and how bad is the crisis?

Following in the footsteps of GMG and The Manchester Evening news the Daily Mail group cut 1000 jobs from their regional arm this week. Could regional news soon be a thing of the past or can the industry find ways to survive?

In a recent House of Commons debate on the issue Culture minister Barbara Follett said the government would "work tirelessly to secure news for local communities" but is this even within the government’s capabilities?

Is there a long term future for the regional press? Can it weather the storm and how important is it that it does so? Is the current crisis an indication that it’s time to find new models to guarantee its survival?

Sara Wilde, managing director of Trinity Mirror’s North West and Wales division, has said the industry would survive the recession as it adapted to the needs of a changing readership.

But does the future of local newspaper lie solely in adapting the way in which they work. Are we going to see a shift into local news only being available online and if so is there a commercially viable market for this?

Traditionally the regional media has been the entry for new journalists, and even aspiring politicians, can we afford to lose this industry training ground?

Following the closure and job cuts of recent months The Newspaper Society and the National Union of Journalists are, unsurprisingly, fiercely campaigning to highlight the consequences of the death of regional papers and several MPs have jumped on their bandwagon.  But is this a situation that has been determined by economics or has this been a long time coming due to the different ways readers access news?

The Guardian’s media commentator Roy Greenslade and Jon Slattery, former deputy editor of Press Gazette will join other experts to discuss the situation and possible ways forward for the regional press.

Roy Greenslade is a commentator and columnist on the media who currently blogs for the Guardian and writes a column for the Evening Standard. He was editor of the Daily Mirror from 1990 to 1991 and held senior positions at  The Sun, and the London Sunday Times.

Jon Slattery is a freelance journalist who writes for the Journalist, The Guardian and Press Gazette. He was deputy editor of Press Gazette from 1993 until 2006, during which time he reported extensively on the regional press. He began his career working on the Lincolnshire Echo.

William Yarker is a director in Deloitte’s media consulting practice and has spent the last nine years working for a variety of print and digital media companies ranging from regional and local newspapers to business to business magazines.  


Media job cuts on Dipity.


Interactive timeline via Guardian.co.uk