A regional daily has illustrated its support for key workers with a front page cartoon created by a local artist.
The Eastern Daily Press has paid tribute to those working in vital sectors across East Anglia during the coronavirus outbreak in an eye-catching graphic by Norfolk-based artist Rebecca Osborne.
EDP editor David Powles told HTFP he wanted to remind readers of the “amazing job” being done by key workers.
He said: “I first came across Rebecca’s amazing designs at a conference on homelessness, where she created a fantastic illustrative depiction of the conference and in the last few weeks she’s been doing some fantastic work praising NHS workers, carers, key workers and even Captain Tom.
“With us now five weeks into lockdown I was keen we put out a positive message to our readers to remind them that, while a few people may be breaking social distancing rules, generally everyone is doing an amazing job in what are very difficult circumstances.
“I knew Rebecca would be the ideal person to come up with something eye-catching and memorable – and that’s exactly what she did.”
Plans for a £1m fund to employ more local democracy reporters in Northern Ireland have been put forward to government chiefs.
Matthew O’Toole, a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Northern Ireland, has put forward the idea as part of a five-point plan to help regional media through the coronavirus crisis.
Mr O’Toole, an MLA for the Social Democratic and Labour Party, has also caled for one-year rates holiday for local newspapers, subject to a binding promise to reinvest half of savings in either new online products or recruiting new journalists.
His plan, announced last week, has already received cross-party backing, with a former leader of the Ulster Unionists expressing his support.
Mr O’Toole, pictured, has called for a new two-year £1m annual Northern Ireland Journalism Fund designed to train and locally employ young local democracy journalists for the first two years of their careers.
The programme would be based on the definition operated by the BBC’s local democracy reporting service, which currently employs several journalists in Northern Ireland as part of as partnership with the regional press industry.
Mr O’Toole, himself a former journalist with political magazine publisher Dods Group, said: “We are facing a crisis in our local media which threatens not just the people who own papers, but the resilience of the local communities they serve.
“Local and regional papers are not just sources of information – though that is vital – they are the meeting point of people and places. They bind communities together, mitigate against isolation and provide something close to an essential service.
“For that reason it is unthinkable that the Northern Ireland Executive would let local papers go to the wall. I’m calling on the Executive to take real action to protect these community assets into the future, and to ensure Northern Ireland trains the professional journalists it needs to allow citizens to hold their leaders to account.”
A total of 40 MPs from across the political spectrum have now backed a campaign to help independent news publishers through the crisis.
The Independent Community News Netowrk’s #saveindependentnews campaign is calling for more support from government for its members.
Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael, has now written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, asking that they support local and independent media through an increased share of public health communications spending.
The letter is signed by 40 MPs in total.
Mr Carmichael said: “Local press are some of the most trusted sources of news for our communities and we must support them in this challenging time.
“They are vital to our efforts to respond and recover from the coronavirus and yet they are facing significant financial difficulties.
“This letter is about getting a fair share of government advertising spend for local and independent press, to reflect both their importance in our communities and their financial needs.
“The Secretary of State for Health has an important role in deciding where these advertising funds go.”