Thursday 13 October 2011

Why not hold an inquiry into the severe challenges faced by the local press? Dacre asks Leveson

Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre highlighted the plight of the local press suffering "swingeing cuts" when he appeared before the Leveson inquiry yesterday and said regional journalists were often paid a "pittance".

Dacre claimed there were
several illuminating paradoxes in the current furore over the press.

He told the inquiry: "Paradox number one is that the political class's current obsession with clamping down on the press is contiguous with the depressing fact that the newspaper industry is in a sick financial state.

"Several of our quality papers are losing awesome amounts of money. More worrying, Britain's proud provincial and local press – currently subject to closures, mergers and swingeing cuts – is arguably facing the severest challenges.

"This diminishes our democracy. Courts go uncovered. Councils aren't held to account. And the corrupt go unchallenged. That is
a democratic deficit that in itself is worthy of an inquiry."

He added: "I'd also today like to persuade you that there are thousands of decent journalists in Britain who don't hack phones, don't bribe policemen and who work long anti-social hours for modest recompense – and if they're in the regional press often for a pittance – because they passionately believe that their papers give voice to the voiceless and expose the misdeeds of the rich, the powerful and the pompous."

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