New Model Journalism

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Archive for the ‘Public policy’ Category

Will the coalition government save quality journalism?

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It’s nearly party (conference) time, so over the next few weeks NMJ will be focusing on public policy and what it means for the future of journalism. We’ll be looking at the political developments in Westminster and Whitehall, and how digital media are helping people to influence policy in new ways.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport gave NMJ this statement: ‘The government is clear that we need strong media, both national and local, underpinned by quality journalism, which is fundamentally important for citizens and our democratic process.’

In terms of general sentiment, so far, so good. In practice, DCMS is limiting its aspirations to cutting media regulation and promoting local TV stations.
In November, work will begin on a Communications Bill, expected to come to Parliament in late 2012, to bring about a relaxation of the cross-ownership rules that govern the local media. The idea is that a new generation of local TV stations will replace regional news organisations like ITV, becoming commercially viable multi-media platforms providing TV, print and online content.

Licensing for the new TV companies is expected to begin in 2012, with up to twenty local TV stations licensed by the time the current parliament ends in 2015.

Written by Alex

September 14th, 2010 at 11:05 am

Government plans help and hinder local papers

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Meanwhile, over at the Department of Communities and Local Government, the government is intervening in one aspect of the crisis facing local papers – the competition posed by council newspapers.

In June, with characteristic candour, Communities minister Eric Pickles called the freesheets distributed by councils in their local areas ‘town hall Pravdas’, suggesting they wasted taxpayers’ money and undermined a free press. The government plans to revise the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity – the statutory guidance for local authority communications – to restrict what councils can publish.

Unsurprisingly, the bodies representing councils argue that council newspapers complement rather than compete with local newspapers. LG Communications condemned the government’s decision, saying that council papers fill the ‘growing information gap’ left by poor local reporting.Research published by the Local Government Association last year found that council publications contained information about local services rather local news.

With the jury out about how big a threat council papers pose to local journalism, it’s hard to say whether this change in policy will benefit the independent press.

But a second government measure is likely to worry local papers, along with the trade press, whose revenues are also dependent on adverts for jobs in the public sector. In July, Pickles announced plans to oblige councils to place job adverts online as a way of driving down costs. One organisation’s cheaper advertising is another organisation’s falling advertising revenues …

Written by Alex

September 14th, 2010 at 11:04 am

MPs’ report addresses crisis in local journalism

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MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee – a cross-party group now disbanded following the dissolution of parliament – have called for new measures to revive local journalism.

In ‘Future for local and regional media’, published on April 6th, the MPs say the Office for Fair Trading should conduct an investigation into the effect of council-run papers on local journalism. They also argue that restrictions preventing publishers from banding together to take collective action against news aggregation websites such as Google News should be lifted.

But the MPs rule out state subsidies for newspapers and urge local publishers to embrace new media technologies in order to survive.

Written by Alex

April 12th, 2010 at 7:05 am