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Treat closure-threatened newspapers like pubs, MP urges

Helen GoodmanNewspaper owners should be legally required to offer the community titles they want to close, a former minister has said.

Helen Goodman, left, Labour MP for Bishop Auckland, said publications should be treated as a “community asset” – similar to how the Government tries to protect pubs from being sold or demolished if they are deemed important to residents.

A lack of local newspapers was “dangerous” as it created an environment in which fake news could “flourish,” she warned.

MPs heard that 22 local newspapers have closed in the past 18 months, although 13 new publications have been established in the same period.

Ms Goodman, a former work and pensions minister, raised the idea of extending the community asset measures during a Westminster Hall debate on the issue.

“Normally this is done with pubs but it would be a good idea if before a newspaper closes a title it is required to offer the title to the local community as a community asset,” she told MPs.

“As I’ve said, I think many of these – like the Camden New Journal – could be run on a financially sustainable basis, could be run by co-ops of the journalists, and I think we need to put this option on to the statute book.”

Margaret Greenwood, Labour MP for Wirral West, earlier suggested there was a need for more journalism as the Government devolved powers to different regions.

She told Ms Goodman: “We are having the election of a mayor for the Liverpool city region, which will take place on May 4.

“Would you agree with me that this decline you’re describing so clearly is really significant given the growth of devolution? We’re going to need more journalism in our localities rather than less.”


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  • March 31, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    I applaud the idea Of obliging publishers to offer the titles to a person or persons in the community but this doesn’t alter the fact that newspapers at no longer the first port of call for anyone accessing the days news so unlike a pub the audience has already drifted away to other mediums.
    A failed product is a failed product whichever way you look st it, the media owners have let once relevant titles wither on the vine when the threat of new bigger more relevant opposition was emerging.
    I would much prefer subsidies and support for the many new media businesses opening up with comminity publications and on line sites offering local people a good new news and advertising service.

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  • April 1, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    Surely a pub only closes because many of its regulars have drifted away – it’s exactly the same scenario

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