Monday 15 December 2008

State aid for regional press gets thumbs down

The idea of a state bail out for regional newspapers, first proposed by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, gets the thumbs down by commentators in MediaGuardian today.
Most emphatic is Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, who states: "No, No, No! the last thing any newspaper should do is accept subsidy from the state. The particular strength of the UK newspaper industry is its independence."
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear accuses regional newspaper proprietors of "excessive profiteering" over the past 15 years and adds: "The major newspaper groups shouldn't need state aid - run as they are, they certainly don't deserve it."
Bill Hagerty, editor of the British Journalism Review, is also critical of the way the regional press has been managed and asks: "Would such short-sighted and greedy managements have the skill, will and courage to resist the pressures on editorial independence that could accompany state aid? The most stringent criteria need to be in place before they are given even a penny."
Brian MacArthur, assistant editor (books) at the Telegraph, and a former editor of Northcliffe's Western Morning News in Plymouth, says: "We have fought long and hard to keep the state out of newspapers. But, having said that, I am deeply worried in particular about the survival of the regional press, the papers linked into their communities, from Cumbria to Cornwall."

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