Chris Morley, the NUJ's Northern and Midlands organiser, has blamed the crisis in the local press on “remote and irresponsible" owners and "timid editors".
Morley, in a guest blog for Manchester-based Ethos PR, argues: “Local newspapers are not dead but they are being killed by remote and irresponsible owners who care nothing for them but as a source of ready cash.
"The damage is being compounded by the air of defeatism being generated by often timid editors (with a few honourable exceptions) who refuse to challenge the bean counters to protect their own titles."
He adds: “The fact is that the public has been conditioned to believe circulations are inevitably falling due to once-loyal readers switching to on-line news and other fancy new distractions. The old line is trotted out that young people are not reading newspapers and older readers are being lost due to life’s attrition.
“The true situation is that newspaper titles changed hands from the old family owners who saw their titles as giving them a virtuous and prestigious place in the community to a small band of corporate giants totally divorced from the consumers they are trying to reach. The new breed of owners consistently starved their local newspapers of investment because circulation income was only a small part of their earnings. So long as the advertisers kept on coming back, the money still came rolling in they thought.”
- Grey Cardigan in his latest column for Press Gazette suggests that many of Northcliffe's most outspoken editors have been forced out "by the grey men in grey suits". Cardigan writes: "They [the suits] couldn't handle the boardroom battles, the cult of 'Editorial is King' and the notion that people would fight to the death for what was right for their newspapers, their readers and their staff. So off they had to go."