Tough times for regional journalism

The picture above shows journalists from the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post – both based in Leeds, UK – striking over threatened redundancies.
This has been a common theme of the recession so far – the decline of regional journalism with swinging cuts from the South-West right up to Scotland. Now it has come to Yorkshire with 18 jobs up for the axe at Wellington Street. Full disclosure I used to work for Yorkshire Post and obviously my sympathies are with old colleagues.
Last year I took a phone call from an old newspaper colleague a couple of weeks ago. He wanted to know if I could help a former work mate find a job after being made redundant by a major regional newspaper publisher. I seem to be getting a lot of these calls recently
Since 1989, circulation is down 51% to 12,549 for the Birmingham Post; 49% to 70,028 for the Leicester Mercury; 43% to 50,256 for the Northern Echo (I used to work there); 62% to 32,874 for the Argus in Sussex; 38% to 38,844 for the Echo in Southend; 38% to 36,516 for the Herald in Plymouth; 49% to 20,976 for the Oldham Evening Chronicle; 46% to 19,956 for the Halifax Evening Courier. North, south, east, west, large, small, morning and evening, the story for Britain’s local papers is one of unremitting gloom.
Obviously, blogs, the internet, YouTube et al are having a huge impact on regional newspaper journalism and they are not going to go away. The main problem, certainly with the dailies, is that they are pretending to give local, regional and national news.
But parochialism is everything - and regional newspapers seem to have forgotten that. In my part of the world, what makes news in Bradford doesn’t make news in Leeds (ten miles distant).
Indeed, regionalism may have been deemed dead in some respects certainly at a local political level where people are not interested in what the councils of Hull, Leeds, Bradford or York have planned for their citizens. In spite of this I still love the Yorkshire Post and buy it every day. Similarly, as a resident of Barnard Castle I bought the Teesdale Mercury every week when I lived there.
Local is so important in regional newspapers. Back in the day when I was still a journalist - that meant covering the Women’s Institute meeting, the Parish Council and the local art competition. The idiocy of the current situation is that the more you cut the editorial resource the more you damage a newspaper’s ability to report local news.
Perhaps, we should launch our own web-based community funded newspaper for Yorkshire – now there’s a thought.


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Ian Green said...

Many thanks!