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‘More at stake than a headline’ – local MP laments newspaper’s closure

JimMcMahonLocal MPs and industry leaders have voiced their sadness at the closure of the Oldham Chronicle after 163 years of publication, with one saying it was “more than just a paper.”

As reported by HTFP yesterday, the family-owned title has ceased publication after its parent company Hirst, Kidd and Rennie Limited went into administration.

Efforts to find a buyer for the paper are ongoing, but most of its 49 staff have already been made redundant.

Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon, left, said that even if the name were to survive, the paper would be “lost” without its staff under the leadership of editor Dave Whaley.

Writing on his website, the Labour MP said: “There will be some who will celebrate today. They may have been subjected to a bad headline, a letter unpublished or coverage not given.

“I don’t because anyone who took the time to give an honest assessment would see that it was more than just a paper. Anyone attending the Pride in Oldham Awards, Oldham Business Awards or Sports Awards would have seen first-hand the difference it made, not to mention its championing of local causes and charities.

“Observers of the media will have seen the demise of the printed press and with it the cracks in the foundations of our democracy. Freedom of speech is important and it’s aided significantly by quality journalism based on research, facts and balance.

“For the 49 staff made redundant the news will be devastating but the tears run further because it was more than a company, it was a family and has been since 1854.

“Some elements of the paper may remain. The administrators will be seeking buyers for its assets; including its name.

“Even if the name is retained its soul will be lost without the dedication of its staff under the leadership of Dave Whaley who fought hard to keep the paper alive as he saw many other local papers go to the wall.”

His sentiments were echoed by Oldham East and Saddleworth MP and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams.

She tweeted: “Extremely saddened to learn that @OldhamChronicle after 163 years has ceased publication, w/ 49 staff made redundant.”

Current and former editors also took to Twitter to voice their sadness at the move.

Huddersfield Examiner editor Wayne Ankers, who started his career at the Chronicle, said: “So sad to hear of closure of my local paper The Oldham Chronicle. Thoughts with all staff & thanks for launching my journo career 24 yrs ago.”

Former Scotsman editor and director of the Scottish Newspaper Society John McLellan said:  “Sad news… must be market for a strong weekly.”

And Kent Messenger Group editor-in-chief Ian Carter said: “I’ve read many comments saying this closure is irrelevant because ‘I get my news from Facebook.’ Who do you think wrote those stories, guys?

In a series of tweets, former South Wales Argus editor Kevin Ward questioned the overall direction of the industry and called for greater investment in newsrooms.

“Regional newspapers locked in spiral of cuts & decline. Vision is needed at the top of companies obsessed with unsustainable profit margins,” he wrote.

“Shareholders need to accept returns lower than current unsustainable levels – but still more than acceptable in most industries.

“There needs to be significant investment in newsrooms. Most are now barely functioning after years of staffing cuts and pay freezes.”

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  • September 4, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Newspapers need to start to protecting their copyright – vigorously!

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