Some Laws and Policies Deprive Local News Integrity in the United Kingdom

by Sauro on March 30, 2016 - 11:37pm

The article Local journalism is under threat - here are some ways we can save it by Judith Townend published June 18th of 2015 presents consequences of local journalism gradual disappearance and some tentative solutions to the issue in the United Kingdom. 

To begin with, evidence from a Media Standard Trust study shows that the centralization of news operations (mostly controlled by BBC - British Broadcasting Corporation) and the budgetary cuts that suffer local news journals have greatly affected the way media coverage is done within local communities. Local news employees and The National Union of Journalists claim that they simply cannot produce good journalistic coverage due to the lack of resources, the companies’ policies, but especially, because they have to rely on news agency material which usually produces less relevant information for local communities. As the South London Guardian holds: “if local newspapers are not properly staffed, important stories will be go unreported and residents will be left in the dark”. 

Townend proposes a few ideas to remediate to this situation. To begin with, the newspaper companies’ policy that opines toward a commercial market is not effective. This is a threat to relevant local information and it may prevent citizens to have access to important or enjoyable news about their region which could actually affect their lives. Furthermore, there is a necessity to stop news centralization and to promote diversity. This could inform the reader of different opinions rather than having access to the same point of view that comes from different journals. Finally, the United Kingdom strict charitable laws make it difficult for anyone or any corporation to donate money to local news journals even though lawyers and journalists have worked the case unsuccessfully. If local journals were allowed to receive philanthropic donation, it would cost less taxes to the community for the service while local journalists would have resources to produce relevant content, especially in journalistic investigation since that is the first field to suffer from the lack of budget.

 In short, there is a need for reform in corporative and legal policies in order to promote freedom of expression and the quality of local journalism. 

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I do agree with the opinion of The National Union of Journalists only if these various local newspapers just create a financial liability more than them actually being relevant or useful in terms of the news they publish to the public. If it's to costly to sustain the survival of these small local journalists, then terminating them, in my opinion, if there's enough evidence is the right choice to do. Although, this would narrow down the diversity of local stories, some analysis must be done to see how many residents actually are interested in reading these local stories from small newspapers. Alternatively, the small local newspapers could go through some quality control in order to determine if they remain relevant to cover local news, thus, a decision could be made respectively whether or not to dismiss local newspapers.