Martin Rooney, Labour leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, in Scotland, made the comments on the Facebook page of the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter.
His post, which he later deleted and then republished, accused regional weekly newspapers of “highlighting crimes such as garden shed thefts and running down the local councils” to the detriment of their sales.
In response, the Reporter’s editor has now challenged Cllr Rooney, pictured left, to edit an edition of the paper himself.
Cllr Rooney’s republished post, pictured above, reads: “The average weekly newspaper circulation continues to fall. I am not really surprised by this but its [sic] a worrying trend that will lead to mergers or some newspapers going bust.
“This affects local jobs but newspapers are also an integral part of our community. I don’t know the specific reasons but I would guess its [sic] down to instant news on the internet and social media such as facebook.
“But I also think its [sic] a lot to do with the constant negative stories that locals run highlighting crimes such as garden shed thefts and running down the local councils etc.
“I genuinely think they have lost their way and more positive stories is the way to reverse the trend. Circulation must go up when the newspapers do positive news stories such as pupils starting schools etc.”
According to the most recent ABC figures, the Dumbarton and Leven Reporter sold an average 2,429 copies each week in the second half of 2014 – down 15.3pc on the same period in 2013.
Reporter editor Henry Ainslie said: “It is true that newspaper sales are declining across the board but our audience is growing all the time through our unrivalled online coverage of stories and issues affecting Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven.
“We have a duty to report everything that has, is, and is going to happen in the area – regardless of whether it is ‘positive’ or ‘negative’.
“Cllr Rooney is perfectly entitled to his opinion on declining sales, and I would like to take this opportunity to publicly invite him to guest edit an edition of the Reporter, and put his theories in to practice.”
He said: “Local newspapers are packed every week, and their websites every day, with positive news about their communities, marking births, marriages, school achievements, graduations, and happy anniversaries. But they are not there to sanitise problems or provide propaganda for local authorities.
“Wise civic leaders understand that fair criticism is a necessary part of accountability and scrutiny and do not expect their local paper to be a slavish celebrant of all they do.
“And with online and mobile audiences growing steadily, it is no longer sufficient to measure the relevance or otherwise of any news organisation simply through hard copy sales.”