Giving evidence to the ongoing inquiry this morning, Jonathan Grun said he regularly visited both national and regional newspaper newsrooms as part of his role.
He said was always impressed at the professionalism of the journalists involved and their commitment to “upholding high journalistic standards”.
But he added that the current financial situation in regional newspapers was a “genuine cause for concern”.
Jonathan was asked by Lord Leveson whether financial pressures on the regional press were putting an additional burden on the Press Association to ensure that it retains local news as an important part of its remit.
He replied: “Yes. Providing news from across the country, both for customers to use at a national level but also for customers to use at a regional level, is very important to us. And I agree with you, the difficulties the regional press are — in fact all of the press, but particularly the regional press are going through at the moment is a genuine cause for concern.”
Jonathan went on to say that PA’s own network of regional reporting staff was now “less extensive than it was.”
But he added: “We still maintain a substantial network of regional reporting staff and photographic staff, and providing news, as I say, from the regions for use at a national level and also sometimes by the regional media themselves. Likewise the sort of service that we provide from here at the Royal Courts of Justice will resonate with national customers but also a lot of the stories that we do are of critical importance to regional customers as well.”
Jonathan praised the “really worthwhile” work carried out by the existing Press Complaints Commission in dealing with requests for corrections and apologies.
But he said: “I think the flaw in the PCC’s operations is actually contained in its name. It’s just involved in resolving complaints.”
He told the inquiry that the Press Association’s key principles are to be “fast, fair and accurate”
“The bond of trust that we have with our customers means that they have to be able to use anything that we provide them without making any further checks,” he said.