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‘Work with me to win more cash for local press’, editor urges Dorries

Paul HutchinsonAn editor whose title covers Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries’ constituency has urged her to work with him to secure more cash help for independent publishers.

Bedford Independent co-managing editor Paul Hutchinson has urged Ms Dorries to offer further help to the independent local news sector after she endorsed one of the site’s stories on Twitter.

Paul, pictured, has demanded Ms Dorries uses her power to ensure titles like the Independent get a “fair share” of external funding for their journalism and has now offered the MP for Mid Bedfordshire a monthly column too.

It comes after several local editors, including Paul, criticised tech giants such as Google for what they see as a perceived bias towards bigger publishers when it comes to granting funding to the regional press industry.

Ms Dorries, who is the MP for Mid Bedfordshire, shared a link to a story published by the Independent on Twitter on Sunday.

In response, Paul wrote on the Independent’s official Twitter account: “If you can now see to it that all independent news desks across the UK get a fair share of financial support, so we can all continue to publish genuine local news for local people, that’d be great.”

Last month HFTP reported how both Paul and Phil Creighton, editor of Wokingham Today, had hit out at Google, claiming its Google News Showcase project is “ignoring” the UK’s independent local news sector.

Their comments were subsequently backed by Joshi Herrmann, editor of the Manchester Mill, and Mollie Simpson, of its Liverpool-based sister title The Post.

Google has recently announced the launch of a new tool to make it easier for users to find news local to them, with titles participating in the project being able to highlight the content they want to promote via the search engine’s News channel.

Reach plc also revealed a major expansion of its digital newsletter portfolio in February, including the creation of 12 new jobs, with financial support from Google’s Digital News Initiative.

Speaking to HTFP, Paul said: “We’re really pleased that the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, an MP that serves some of our 130,000 monthly readers, recognises that our content is worth shouting about and vitally important to local democracy.

“We hope she now helps secure fair financial support for us and all the other independents across the UK, so she and her colleagues have content to share on Twitter for many years to come.”

“We’re certain in her role as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Ms Dorries will do all she can to protect all independent local media to support balanced and actuate news for the vital role it plays in communities up and down the UK.

“As with all other MPs in our patch, we’ll continue asking Ms Dorries for comment on local matters and space for a monthly column is ready and waiting for her. We look forward to her continued interest in the most widely-read publication in her constituency.”

HTFP has approached the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for a response to Paul’s comments.