MPs have backed the Newspaper Society campaign to stop the BBC beefing up its local websites for fear of damaging the local press. So, it is interesting to see today that MPs are waking up to the impact of the growing cut-backs and job losses facing the regional newspaper industry.
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Ashok Kumar, has tabled an Early Day Motion asking Trinity Mirror to think again about proposals to close district offices and cut editorial staff at the Middlesbrough-based Teesside Evening Gazette. The MP said: "The staff based in the district offices are simply the eyes and ears of the paper in areas where there is often a lot of news generated. These closures would mean that local news may end up unreported, and which in turn would mean a blander paper, and one that could lose readership as a result."
The EDM states: "That this House is concerned by the proposal of the Teesside Evening Gazette, as administered by the Trinity Mirror Group, to shut their offices in Redcar, Stockton and Guisborough; opposes the proposal to make a number of editorial staff redundant; notes that this will result in many parts of Teesside being under-represented in the media and could therefore cause a decline in local news coverage in the area; and requests the Trinity Mirror Group to reconsider its decision." The severe problems facing regional newspaper publishers were underlined today when Northcliffe Media announced profits were down 32 per cent and pledged to make "significant" savings in 2009.
Expect more action from MPs particularly if, as predicted by Roy Greenslade today, regional newspapers will close because of the financial crisis.