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Weekly’s closure after 151 years prompts call for government intervention

Journalists have called for government support for local newspapers after a 151-year-old weekly announced its closure.

HTFP reported last week how the Banbridge Chronicle had announced it will cease publication at the end of this month “unless other arrangements can be made”.

The announcement has prompted former staff on the Chronicle to urge other communities to rally around their local papers.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists has called for more intervention to help save titles like the Chronicle.

Banbridge Chronicle

The NUJ’s Belfast and District branch chair Robin Wilson told the Belfast News Letter: “Our thoughts are with our colleagues at the Chronicle.

“For too many journalists now, a career is being replaced by constant insecurity. Stormont has to recognise that information is a public good.

“It has to support local media – for example through public advertising – especially if they convert to social enterprises, so that towns and villages don’t become a news desert.”

Farming Life editor Ruth Rodgers began working at the Chronicle in 1994, in her first job as a senior reporter.

She told the News Letter: “It is such a travesty that a newspaper which has been serving the community for 151 years now finds itself in the position that it has to close its doors.

“I really enjoyed my time at the Chronicle and had the opportunity to work with some really talented and dedicated people there.

“Unfortunately it will probably not be the only newspaper to close its doors due to the current climate – unless the communities rally round and start to recognise the important role their local paper plays.”

Lurgan Mail editor Paul Wilkinson, who began his career on the Chronicle, added: “That the Banbridge Chronicle’s masthead should sink beneath the waves after 151 years afloat, victim of what has been called a perfect storm, is worthy of lament.

“There may yet come a time when society will miss papers like the Chronicle.”