Thursday, 23 July 2009

Alan Rusbridger calls for state funding for PA

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has called for public funding for the Press Association to cover public authorities and courts as local newspapers and ITV regional news can no longer afford to.
Rusbridger, speaking at a seminar on the future of journalism at the Media Standards Trust in London, said local news needed to be supported, or "corruption and inefficiency" would grow as scrutiny lessened.
He said the Press Association should get public money to provide local news as other providers such as newspapers and ITV regional news disappear.
In return, PA would contract out the reporting of public authorities and courts to local papers, with the content then shared with other outlets.
Rusbridger said of the disappearance of local journalism: "It makes me worry about all of those public authorities and courts which will in future operate without any kind of systematic public scrutiny. I don't think our legislators have begun to wake up to this imminent problem as we face the collapse of the infrastructure of local news in the press and broadcasting."
He said local public service journalism was a "kind of utility" which was just as important as gas and water.
"We must face up to the fact that if there is no public subsidy, then some of this [public service] reporting will come to pass in this country," he said.
"The need is there. It is going to be needed pretty quickly."
Rusbridger warned in a radio interview last December that the closure of newspapers could leave some cities in the UK without their own news for the first time since the Enlightenment.
He also raised the possibility of state funding for regional newspapers last November in a Guardian article as the economic crisis gripped the industry with closures and widespread job cuts.

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