for diverse, democratic and accountable media

Government acts on future of regional media

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Posted by NUJ news reelease

The government has agreed to call a summit on the future of the regional media – just one day after it was suggested by the NUJ. Junior culture minister Barbara Follett made the announcement during a debate in the House of Commons today (Thursday). The idea had been put forward to cabinet minister and culture secretaryAndy Burnham by NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear and members of the union’s parliamentary group at a meetingon Wednesday afternoon.

Jeremy said: “The meeting with Andy Burnham was very constructive and I am delighted that our suggestion has been picked up so quickly. Journalists on regional papers, TV, radio and websites are losing their jobs every day. Papers are closing, local offices are being boarded up. The government summit must involve journalists, media owners, and community and co-operative groups. It must actively consider all options for the future of local media.”

John McDonnell MP, secretary of the NUJ parliamentary group, said: “I am really glad that the government has emraced our idea and acted so quickly. We look forward to taking part in the summit."

Speaking after Wednesday’s meeting Jeremy said: “Mr Burnham clearly values the role his local papers - the Leigh Journal and the Leigh Reporter - play in holding the community together. We told the minister that any government assistance for the media should have conditions guaranteeing jobs and investment in local journalism. Without that it will become a handout for shareholders. We also asked him to look at ways of funding new start ups, co-operatives, and community media initiatives. Mr Burnham has been a supporter of the Football Supporters Trust and this could be looked at as a model for local media.”

The House of Commons debate yesterday was called by Greater Manchester MPs who are opposed to cut backs by Guardian Media in the county. More than 70 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion - a parliamentary petition - backing the union’s concerns about regional journalismNext Wednesday – 25 March – the NUJ is lobbying MPs about the job cuts in local media. The lobbying is part of a union-wide campaign against media cutbacks.   

DATELINE: 25 January, 2010


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