The boss of the Newspaper Society has said the local press must be central to any new system of press self-regulation.
National newspaper editors are reported to have agreed to put in place all of the main proposals of Lord Justice Leveson’s report published last week, except for the call for statutory “underpinning.”
Ministers have told the industry to agree to a new system of independent self-regulation or face the prospect of regulation by statute.
The NS, which represents the regional and local press, held a meeting with ministers on Wednesday to give its own response to the report.
In his report, Lord Justice Leveson exempted the local press from criticisms about ethics in the industry and also called for urgent government action to help safeguard regional newspapers.
In a Commons debate earlier this week, Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch called for the local press to have “an equal voice in the design and operation of the new system.”
Speaking yesterday, NS President Adrian Jeakings said: “The Leveson report made clear that the criticisms of the British Press over the past 18 months were not directed at our titles, indeed that our contribution to the life of local life was ‘truly without parallel’.
“However, like it or not, we are an important part of the press and any system of regulation will likely apply to us as much as to the national papers. It is therefore essential that we work with them to quickly put in place a tough, effective and independent system of self-regulation without statutory underpinning.”
Regional press editors have been continuing to give their own reactions to the report in a series of personal blogs.
Kevin wrote in his piece: “The regional press is the most read part of the printed media in this country. More people read a regional or local newspaper at some point during a week than read a national.
“Yet the potential impacts of Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations for future regulation on the regional press are barely being mentioned in the wall-to-wall coverage that followed last week’s publication of his inquiry report.”
Mike wrote: “For Leveson, the UK’s regional Press were but a bit part, an extra in a widescreen epic about clandestine meetings in the corridors of power, or in the fields of Gloucestershire and sinister, burly men chasing beautiful heroines down London streets in the dark of night
“Newspapers outside of London have a total of 33million readers every week, far above the combined circulation of those based in the capital…by not taking seriously enough the reading material seen by those 33million pairs of eyes, Sir Brian was bound to get a totally skewed picture.”