2 September 2014

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Regional dailies set to lose Westminster coverage

A clutch of regional daily newspapers could lose their dedicated coverage of Westminster as a result of Press Association cutbacks.

PA currently provides a bespoke House of Commons service for 15 regional titles with its ‘Lobby Extra’ package.

The service has grown over recent years as regional titles which once employed their own staff lobby correspondents decided to outsource the work.

However PA has confirmed it is now consulting on the future of the service with the possible loss of up four jobs.

Regional newspapers which receive the service include the North Wales Daily Post, Liverpool Post, Northern Echo, Western Daily Press, Belfast Telegraph, Bristol Post, Brighton Argus, Oxford Mail, Southern Daily Echo, Swindon Advertiser, Bradford Telegraph and Argus, Carlisle News and Star, North West Evening Mail and Oldham Evening Chronicle.

Until the late 1990s, the service was operated by a news agency, Central Press, which was ultimately owned by Bristol United Press.

However when BUP was sold to Northcliffe Newspapers in 1998, the new owners declined to take on the agency, which instead was sold to PA.

A Press Association spokesman said:  “We have announced a consultation process in respect to our ‘Lobby extra’ service – which is a tailored service for specific newspapers. No decisions have been made and we have no further comment to add at this stage.”

The loss of Lobby Extra would constitute a major blow to regional newspaper representation at Westminster, with only a handful of titles and one group – Northcliffe Media – retaining their own dedicated correspondents.

Regional newspapers that continue to employ a House of Commons staffer include the Western Morning News, Western Mail, Birmingham Mail, Yorkshire Post, Eastern Daily Press and The Journal, Newcastle.

Over the past four years the three biggest English regional dailies – the Express & Star, Liverpool Echo and Manchester Evening News – have all axed their staff lobby correspondents and transferred the work to head office.

2 Comments

  1. Dan, Bristol

    Yet another very sad day for the regional press.

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  2. Phil Brooks

    I love the quote insisting “we have announced a consultation process . . . no decisions have been made”. They are a news organisation so why not just be straight and admit they are closing the business?

    Incidentally, I understand Lobby Extra does still make a profit.

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