The National Assembly for Wales is considering recruiting its own team of journalists as a response to the decline of media covering the nation.
A report by the Assembly’s “Digital Taskforce” proposes a radical response to what it sees as the lack of media plurality in Wales.
It cites a 2016 study which found found that only 4 per cent of Welsh people read the Western Mail and 2.5 per cent the Daily Post (versus 16 per cent who read the Daily Mail).
The report states: “Even when the public did engage with the Welsh media, the Assembly was afforded low prominence in its coverage.”
In 2016 the Daily Post, for example, stopped having a dedicated Welsh Assembly reporter.
The report states: “Unsurprisingly therefore, and despite being responsible for key policy areas such as education, health and transport, the weak and fragmented nature of the Welsh media means that the nature of the legislature is ‘neither understood or scrutinised’.”
As response, the report proposes that the Welsh Assembly fills the perceived news cap in coverage of its activities itself.
“The Assembly is a significant creator of content. On a daily basis it produces a large volume of material covering a wide range of topics targeted at a variety of audiences.
“In order to make best use of this wealth of information it is as important to think of the Assembly in terms of a distribution platform as it is to consider its role as curator.
“For these reasons, we have discussed the potential for reimagining the Assembly itself as a content platform. Rather than absorbing ourselves in the pessimism related to the lack of media plurality in Wales, this new mind-set opens the door to exciting new opportunities for the Assembly to reach audiences directly.
“We think the Assembly should lead the way and establish an integrated content service to engage directly with the people of Wales. Headed by an experienced, impartial editor we suggest establishing a small team of journalists focused on producing content about the stories coming out of the Assembly, packaged in a way that is suitable for digital platforms.
“This should be delivered as a distributed digital news service using social media and other channels (such as dedicated email newsletters) to engage directly with people across Wales.
“We think this service would also provide useful material for the scores of local and hyperlocal news publications around Wales. These stories should be used to draw audiences back to Senedd TV and the revamped Assembly website, which will provide homes for archived stories about the place where the Welsh Government is scrutinised and held to account – the National Assembly for Wales.”
lywydd (presiding officer) of the National Assembly for Wales Elin Jones AM said: “We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the Assembly, which is an opportunity to refresh the way in which the Assembly presents itself and to build a deep and genuine dialogue with the people of Wales. I look forward to discussing the report, and how we take it forward, with Assembly Commissioners.”