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Former editor to study decline of regional newspapers

The history of local newspapers will be studied by a former regional press editor.

Neil Fowler has been awarded the Guardian Research Fellowship at Nuffield College, Oxford University, and will look at the post-war history of local press and more recent developments such as the impact of digital technology and the internet.

The fellowship is an endowment funded by the Scott Trust, owners of the Guardian Media Group, and Neil’s award represents the first time the local press will be exclusively studied.

Neil told HTFP: “The fellowship has been going 20 years and generally it has been on a journalistic theme.

“It will be about what’s happened in the regional press in the last 50 years and what’s brought it into the position it’s in now.

“Essentially, I’m looking at the social, structural, economical and technical changes as well as the current economic issues.

“I’ll also look at practical reforms to see what can make the industry prosper.

“I want to study how things have changed, what happened with new technology, the huge growth in profits and how it can regain the necessary revenues it has lost to the internet.”

Neil added that another aim of the project is to come up with recommendations on the future of publishing, advertising and government involvement and see what business models exist which could be applied to local papers.

During his career, Neil edited the Lincolnshire Echo, Derby Evening Telegraph, The Journal in Newcastle and Cardiff’s Western Mail as well as becoming publisher and chief executive of The Toronto Sun.

Last October he left his post as editor of consumer magazine Which? after nearly three years with the title to take a career break and do some consultancy work.

The research fellowship commences in October next year and culminates in a public lecture and possibly a book.


charlie roberts (16/04/2009 10:42:46)
He might find that the best truly local papers are the ones that stayed in local ownership, concentrating on being a vehicle for the community rather than greedily making profits for shareholders like the mega-companies.
Any hack over 50 (we don’t have any where I work) will tell him things were never perfect in the “old days” (forget the rose-tinted nostalgia)but staff levels were at least double and weekly papers especially covered the ground so much better.e

Memory man (16/04/2009 15:29:41)
I seem to remember Neil’s self-confessed hobby as an editor was ‘throwing clipboards’. That should go down well in the hallowed halls of Oxford academia…- ‘Catch this one, prof!’

Feetondesk (17/04/2009 11:11:05)
Ah… and then there was Clipboard Colin!

Perching (17/04/2009 13:43:56)
Or how to dodge the sack by moving quicker than the pack