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Publishers urge readers to ‘protect local journalism’ as lockdown 2 hits

Regional publishers have urged readers to “protect local journalism and local jobs” after relaunching print and digital subscription drives ahead of a second national lockdown in England.

Newspaper groups including Newsquest and Iliffe Media have launched initiatives aimed at helping readers access local news while the new restrictions are in place.

Newsquest is relaunching a home delivery service it ran during the previous coronavirus lockdown.

The company is offering six weeks’ free delivery for its newspapers and is promoting the offer with a message published by many of its titles.

The announcement has prompted a rallying cry from regional press groups

The announcement has prompted a rallying cry from regional press groups

It states: “As the country heads into a second national lockdown, there has never been a more crucial time to know what is happening in your area.

“This next stage of the coronavirus pandemic will have a severe impact on people’s daily lives and mental health, throwing up new challenges for families, businesses, schools, the NHS and our community.

“And in an era of misinformation and fake news on social media sites, staying informed with reliable journalism is key to staying safe. We want to make sure you continue to stay in the know with your trusted local paper.

“This is why we are relaunching our home delivery service with six weeks’ free delivery to ensure you can still get your newspaper at the time when you need it most.”

The company is also promoting its digital subscription packages, which begin at £2 a month for the first two months.

Elsewhere, Iliffe is promoting its app, which entitles users to access to all of its local newspapers, a range of puizzles and national headlines from the Press Association for £4.99 a month.

In a message to readers, group editor Barry Peters said: “There has never been a greater need for trusted, local journalism and we hope this will make it easier than ever to access it.

“Our journalists are continuing to work hard to keep you informed during these difficult times, but we need your support too to ensure we are able to continue to serve and fight for our community for years to come.

“By taking out a subscription you’ll never miss an edition of your newspaper and help protect local journalism and local jobs.”

A number of JPIMedia titles have also published similar messages urging readers to take out digital subscriptions.

Gillian Parkinson, editor of Blackpool daily The Gazette and the Lancashire Post, wrote in a message to readers: “Local news takes money to produce and we cannot pay our trained journalists to find, develop and check stories without having a revenue stream.

“We do understand there is always the option of free one-size fits all news generated from London and even some local, unsubstantiated sources available via social media and your own feeds.

“And we understand you might not like everything you read. Indeed, if you believe what some people tell you, all journalists are evil. But we are not. We are just like you and we are desperately trying to do a good job on your behalf.

“We want our communities to flourish – and to report on that news too. So if you can, please subscribe.”

You can read all our coronavirus-related stories here.