SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has signed a parliamentary motion at Westminster this week supporting the National Union of Journalists’ Local News Matters Week campaign.
The week long campaign is urging government, devolved bodies and local authorities to take active steps to support sustainable investment in professional local and regional news provision online, in newspapers and on radio and television.
Mr Durkan is also lobbying the government to engage with the local newspaper industry to ascertain what steps can be taken to safeguard its future and prevent the loss of titles, which he is said is now “a real threat”.
He said: “I greatly value local newspapers, which play a vital role in social cohesion and the democratic process through engagement of people in their local communities and the reporting of matters of local interest and concern.”
“I am concerned that the worsening financial situation confronting the local newspaper industry has led to a reduction in the amount of news coverage – and in some cases the loss of titles is a real threat.
“Indeed, a study by Press Gazette shows that over 300 local newspaper titles have closed over the past decade, with other titles reducing the frequency of publication.
“Thousands of editorial roles have been lost, together with widespread reduction to the staffing levels associated with frontline reporters based in the community, picture desk editors and photographers.”
Mr Durkan added: “I am therefore delighted to support the National Union of Journalists’ Local News Matters campaign – and the call for government action on the challenges posed to the sustainability of local news provision.
“I am also urging the government to engage with the local newspaper industry to ascertain what steps can be taken to ensure their survival and prosperity in the best interests of the communities which they serve – not least in Derry and throughout the North.”