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February 20, 2019

Culture Secretary delivers message of support to local newspapers in shift from print to digital

By Freddy Mayhew

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has said he believes “wholeheartedly” that the UK news industry can overcome the challenges it faces from a changing market in an article supporting local and regional newspapers.

“But everyone needs to play their part in ensuring the press has a sustainable future,” Jeremy Wright MP wrote in the piece. “And that includes local people supporting their local paper too.”

Wright’s message comes a week after the Cairncross Review published its nine recommendations for sustaining high-quality journalism in the digital age following a year-long inquiry.

He said the Government would “carefully consider” the recommendations and look at ways to support the industry’s transition from print to digital.

The Tory MP acknowledged that readers had shifted online for their news and so too had the money made through advertising for news publishers, “mostly into the hands of Google and Facebook”.

This echoes Press Gazette’s own Duopoly campaign, launched nearly two years ago, calling on Facebook and Google to stop destroying journalism and pay more back to news publishers.

“The Cairncross Review makes clear that one type of news we cannot do without is public interest journalism,” Wright wrote.

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“Journalism is unique because its decline wouldn’t just have financial implications for the companies involved, but would have serious democratic costs too.

“Research has shown that people in areas with no local daily paper are less engaged with local elections, with less trust in local institutions.”

He added: “We mustn’t find in ten years’ time that trustworthy news sources have disappeared with our democracy damaged as a result.

“So we will carefully consider the review’s recommendations, looking at ways to preserve and nurture quality local reporting and to support the transition of the industry from print to digital.”

“We’ve already announced that we will conduct a review on how online advertising is regulated in the UK.

“I believe wholeheartedly that journalism should be accessible to as many people as possible and that the press industry can overcome its challenges.

“But everyone needs to play their part in ensuring the press has a sustainable future. And that includes local people supporting their local paper too.”

Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville

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