Jeremy Dear joins Northcliffe debate

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary. (Photo © Simon Chapman)

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear has joined the debate on the drastic effect of Northcliffe’s cutbacks on journalistic standards and working conditions.

Jeremy was responding to an anonymous blog by a Northcliffe journalist – not from Bristol – whose heartfelt statement you can read here.

And here’s  the general secretary’s article, from the NUJ website:

Reporter tolling the bell for local journalism

The need for urgent action to save the tradition of professional newsgathering in Britain and Ireland is underlined by a new intenet statement from an anonymous reporter detailing ‘the death of local journalism’.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “This cry of anguish from a Northcliffe reporter represents the canary down the mine of local newsgathering.

“If politicians, proprietors and community leaders continue to ignore the warning signs of the death of local journalism, then our society will be the poorer.

“The scale of the crisis is further underlined by the special conference organised by Press Gazette and Kingston University journalism department on May 14 to consider new thinking in local media. NUJ members can attend the conference for half price.”

“The NUJ has called for an economic stimulus plan to reinvigorate local journalism with action aimed at encouraging a variety of voices, across all platforms, a greater plurality, maximised through a combination of different ownership models – commercial, public, mutual, employee, co-operative, for profit and not for profit.”

The anonymous reporter behind the obituary for local journalism warns:

“Eventually only the biggest cities in the country will have a local paper. The rest will have no one to chart local history, to cover the sort of stories which may not make it near a national but are still extremely important to the average person. The situation won’t be much rosier for those who survive. Picture two or three reporters, struggling to even rewrite a press release because they have to take the pictures, write the stories, edit them and then lay the copy into the same box they laid the story on the same page last week. A victory for churnalism, if ever there was one. A ‘triumph’ that isn’t some prediction of the distant future, but a very real situation for a lot of reporters.”

“ That scenario is not scare-mongering,” comments Jeremy Dear.”It is happening now, as the NUJ demonstrates through disputes to protect standards of journalism. Local and national democracy is suffering – councils, courts and public bodies are no longer being properly scrutinised. Sixty four per cent of editors believe they are not scrutinising local councils adequately. Eighty per cent of judges believe courts are not subject to adequate scrutiny. Journalists are increasingly stuck in offices rewriting press releases – relying ever more on corporate or celebrity PR.“Political action is needed at both national and European level to save, build and sustain newsgathering in Britain. Politicians must find the will to create the structures to enable democracy to flourish.”

Filed Under: National NUJ

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