Amanda Andrews argues in the Telegraph that regional newspaper groups need to work more closely together and invest online to survive.
She says the Government is making some positive moves to aid local newspapers but "these are just pigeon steps in the greater scheme of things".
Andrews describes the decision to monitor newspaper-style council papers and a possible relaxation of media merger rules as moves in the right direction.
But adds: "Mergers are not necessarily the answer. They will, of course, provide some synergies but they will not do enough."
She says : "Furthermore, some mergers will be difficult to orchestrate. No doubt there are financial wizzes and media executives out there trying to make deals — but convincing DMGT to merge Northcliffe with Trinity Mirror’s regional business or advising Trinity to tie-up with Johnston Press will be no easy feat. Dealmakers will have to negotiate around Johnston’s debt pile and Trinity’s sizeable pension deficit."
Andrews adds: "Of course, the end of the recession will bring some revival in classified advertising revenues, but regional newspaper groups will remain battered and bruised when the turmoil is over.
"It is key that the groups are encouraged to collaborate more and invest online. Teaming up with a non-newspaper classifieds advertising player such as Yell is one idea. As I’ve said before, a single, jointly-marketed umbrella website which has a familiar name that guides users to each group’s titles makes sense.
"Working together will also relieve the groups of the financial pressures of going it alone when it comes to investing in new technology and trials. From online video to mobile phone offerings, there is no reason why regional newspapers should not be behaving more like nationals."
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