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Newsquest chief calls for further government support of regional press

Henry Faure WalkerNewsquest’s chief executive has called on the government to lend further support to the regional press industry over the next three to five years.

Henry Faure Walker, pictured, has urged the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport to “get out of the slow lane” in its backing of local journalism.

Speaking at a Westminster Media Forum conference on the future of news, Henry said he did not believe in the need for “long term support” for the industry.

But he pointed to work governments overseas are doing to support local journalism such as Canada’s £70 million per annum fund to support local journalism and Denmark’s six-year fund which provided £44 million for local journalism last year.

Earlier this month DCMS began welcoming applications for the £2m Future News Fund, which will offer grants of up to £100,000 to aid projects aimed at helping the regional press explore “innovative ways” to provide local public interest journalism.

Henry, who is News Media Association vice chairman, told the conference: “It’s great that the Government has recognised something needs to be done, but they commissioned the Cairncross report over 18 months ago, and frankly local journalism needs proper help now.

“I don’t believe in the need for long term support nor am I suggesting they support publishing companies. I am saying they should support local journalism and local public interest reporters for the next three to five years, and that they must work with the industry (not against it) in delivering this.

“Local journalism is a huge public good, and DCMS and Government need to get out of the slow lane and be bold – otherwise our local communities, the fabric of our society, will deteriorate just at a time when we as a nation need them most.

He added: “In the UK a one-off grant of £2m into a Future News Fund – for a country that is the founding father of the free press – dare I say it – looks a little light by comparison.

“It certainly looks light compared to the £1 billion tax credits that go to other creative industries – why does a local museum get support but not local journalism?

“Of course, we should be supporting new innovations; but in the medium term these will not come close to replacing the editorially independent and vast amount of impactful journalism still produced by publishers across the UK.

“It’s important that any new initiatives work with and leverage the existing publishing infrastructure; the audiences, the expertise, the training, the legal support, the apprenticeship schemes that already exist and are embedded in news rooms across the country.”


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  • November 15, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Misguided nonsense. Why should tax payers prop up media companies that are badly run when the NHS is starved of enough money. This man should get out more into the real world.

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  • November 15, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Why the hell should taxpayers bail out this shower who over the years have run the industry into the ground and failed big time to capitalize on the opportunities offered by the Web. Management have missed the boat. Bye bye!

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  • November 15, 2019 at 10:02 am

    Years ago people assumed that newspapers were charities. If the taxpayer is to fund anything it should not be with the big (but diminishing)) groups.

    There should be tax breaks for the hyper locals that really deliver local news. These are delivering the news and need to be encouraged not large American firms.

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  • November 15, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    ‘Why does a local museum get support but not local journalism?’ Very odd comment from a chief executive. The answer is because museums are, by and large, not-for-profit. Doesn’t he know how public subsidy is meant to work? Totally agree that these businesses should not be treated as charities, not after decades of financial mismanagement, shareholder greed, overpaid staff at the top etc etc

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  • November 15, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Because @AndyN if these people ran museums they would have sold all the artefacts, replaced poorly paid but skilled curators with even cheaper trainees, flogged off the building and moved to an industrial park mikes from anywhere and taken any money from the museum and given it to shareholders on the other side of the world.

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  • November 15, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    The industry is becoming a farce. A profitable business should be self funding, not relying on handouts. There needs to be an understanding of what the the industry make up is. Is it a news provider? Is it a digital media marketing agency? Is it a profitable media outlet?
    Where does it currently sit and is there a future for it printed or otherwise?

    Everything is totally blurred. Many areas do not have reporters on patch, therefore local relationships are not as strong as they used to be, with the public, local government and businesses. Content is written to generate online numbers and in some areas the numbers continue to grow, so there is a place for quality digital and print journalism but this is not reflected in digital ad revenues. Why is this? Let me tell you it’s because print teams and especially print managers are managing digital commercial teams incorrectly using the old print strategies (and staff). They should be separate businesses and Henry’s Newsquest / LOCALiQ is a prime example of trying but failing to do this efficiently. Keep the brands separate or keep them together but please make a decision, create an identity and do it properly, (not you have bought from LOCALiQ but the invoice will say Newsquest) dear customer).

    There are digital media agencies doing things spectacularly well and while the regional digital press audience is huge and is something sales teams have to dine out on in pitches. Guess what? That audience can be reached elsewhere online and is not exclusive to regional press.

    There is a crisis and we have more chance of getting Brexit sorted first.

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  • November 15, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    Absolutely ridiculous proposal. No wonder so much of the newspaper industry is in a mess. Any half wit shld know that if you take a Govt subsidy you are selling your soul and that the Govt is then in a position to dictate what goes into papers.

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