Monday 23 May 2011

Port Talbot Magnet aims to attract support and revive local media in town left without a newspaper

A community cooperative which includes redundant journalists is trying to revive local media in Port Talbot and fill the gap left when Trinity Mirror's Media Wales closed the Neath and Port Talbot Guardians in 2009.

The not-for-profit cooperative, Local News South Wales, has launched the Port Talbot Magnet website and is investigating ways that a newspaper could be revived in the Welsh town.

Ken Smith, one of the journalists backing the project, told a conference on media cooperatives at London's Goldsmiths College at the weekend that a business plan has been drawn up which estimates that between £80,000 and £200,000 would be required to fund a new newspaper for the area.

He said the Magnet website was launched last month "to give us an online identity in the community" and added: "We want to do quality journalism, not regurgitated press releases."

Andy Williams, a lecturer at Cardiff University's School of Journalism, said research showed that there was "a hunger for local news".

He said in the decade up to 2009 Media Wales had made profit margins of 28 per cent but despite this the company had ended up with fewer journalists, fewer local offices and fewer titles. Williams estimated that the number of journalists employed by the company had fallen from 692 to 346 over the decade.

William claimed the "localness of news" was being stripped out by large publishing companies. He said if the cooperative succeeded in Port Talbot it would mean a "return to local ownership" and money generated would be used to sustain the local media.

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