A call has been made for local authorities to demonstrate their commitment to local newspapers by guaranteeing to place more public notices and council adverts in the titles.
The call came at a meeting of more than sixty councillors, MPs and NUJ members from the Manchester Evening News and other Guardian Media Group weeklies who attended a Stand Up for Journalism meeting at Manchester Town Hall.
The MEN and other titles are facing almost eighty redundancies among journalists and the closure of weekly newspaper offices.
The meeting heard claims that some local newspapers were being penalised by councils such as Salford who had retaliated to what they regard as unfavourable coverage of council stories by withholding advertising from some titles.
Deputy leader of Manchester City Council Jim Battle told the audience he wants all ten local authorities to put their money where their mouth is to help save local newspapers and journalists threatened with redundancy.
Said NUJ Vice President, Peter Murray, who also spoke at the meeting on Friday, “There’s now widespread agreement that defending jobs in print, in broadcasting, or in new media is part of a fight to retain strong public services, under attack from executives who are more concerned about their balance sheets, shareholders or government targets than they are about our role as journalists to scrutinise and question those who hold public office.”
Staff on the GMG titles in Manchester are being balloted over taking industrial action in response to the job cuts.