Local press champion Sir Ray Tindle has donated £250,000 to promote the sector.
At a special lunch to celebrate his 85th birthday year, Sir Ray pledged £250,000 to fund a campaign run by the NS to promote the "unique and valued" role of the local press.
“The first weekly newspaper in England appeared in 1622 so the local press can be proud that it has served the country for so long,” said Sir Ray. “Even my small group has papers which have survived many recessions… There are 1200 [local newspapers]. 1100 are local weeklies. We are the largest medium in our towns. We reach a higher percentage of residents in our areas than any other medium. Collectively we reach 38 million of our UK population – more than the internet or any printed medium – and we perform a different function.”
He told guests at Stationers’ Hall: “We take enormous pride in our longevity, our tenacity and our closeness to our communities. The British press is the finest in the world and we are proud to be a major part of it. Of course we’re having a tough time like most of the country but we’re tough, we’re adapting where necessary, we’re fighting back and coming through as we’ve come through recessions and slumps and world wars in the past.”
Sir Ray said that his auditors had confirmed that his own group’s profits were currently at similar levels to those being achieved before the boom which had preceded this latest recession. “We are local papers,” he added. “For local traders there is no better or more economical way of reaching their potential customers without waste, and for local residents there is no better way of hearing in depth of the news of their schools and churches and courts and councils. No other medium gives the whole comprehensive picture of their town.”