Wednesday, 21 November 2012

NUJ warns Monty 'no fat left to cut' on local titles

The NUJ has warned that there is 'no fat left to cut' on the local newspapers owned by Northcliffe and Iliffe that have been combined in David Montgomery's new Local World venture.

Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ deputy general secretary,(pictured) said: “Once again a huge swathe of our media has changed hands with little transparency and, some could say, by stealth. The increasing consolidation of the regional press under fewer and fewer owners is a great cause for concern.

“Local World said it has a ‘vision to create comprehensive content for local communities’. Experience shows that large groups soon lose contact with their local communities as they close local and district offices. We want to hold Local World to its word that it will protect news coverage for local communities.

“We would like to see hard evidence that the dash to digital can be backed by a solid business case. We want guarantees from David Montgomery that revenues will not be lost in the switch from print to online. We also want guarantees that there will be a print option for many in the community who do not get access to local news and information online.

“We would also like to warn the managers of Local World that there is no fat left on these titles to cut. Year- on-year cuts to staffing and resources have left very little to trim. These cuts mean that courts are not being covered and councils are not being held to account. This democratic deficit is further increased when large sections of the community, who do not have access to computers or smart phones, are unable to get access to their local news.”

David Montgomery said: “This is an entirely new type of media business. The value of Local World will lie in its people, its franchises and its IP. It will be unencumbered by the infrastructure of the industrial past such as property, printing presses and large scale distribution or any legacy issues such as high levels of debt. Local World signals the fight back in Britain’s regional media industry.”

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