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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Defending the producer interest

I am normally a great fan of Assembly Committee reports however the one published this morning on the Welsh newspaper industry has taken a wrong turn up a cul-de-sac in my view.

The all-party committee has attacked councils who use taxpayers money to produce their own newspapers. They say it is not an appropriate use of public funds and may undermine local commercial newspapers especially as council papers take advertising revenue off them. What nonsense.

I am not surprised that newspaper editors and journlists themselves may have given evidence to the committee to this effect, they after all have an interest, but the Committee itself has a duty to take a wider view.

A Council-produced newspaper can save a local authority hundreds of thousands of pounds each year in advertising revenue as they will use their own publication for job adverts and legal notices. That is consistent with the efficient and effective use of public money.

It strikes me that the internet and the recession are the biggest threats to the future of local newspapers, not the activities of the local council. It is important to maintain local newspapers but the traditional business model on which they have built their success is no longer applicable. They need to rethink their approach.
here here!

I'm normally very supportive of the the newspaper industry, however what you say is absolutely correct.

If Councils were forced to shelve Newspapers, not only would they be subject to using taxpayers money to take out far more local/regional advertising (which is charged at commercial rates - far higher than what the council would er...charge itself?) but these local and regional newspapers would be able to cherry pick which stories THEY believe their readers would be interested in, which gives rise to sections of the electorate missing out on what may be relevant stories to them, but deemed far too "boring" for publication in your typical commercial newspaper.

Council-run newspapers provide another good value platform for local authorities to communicate all of their activities to the masses in a far more cost-effective way than taking out reams of advertising in a daily or weekly rag.

I certainly have no problem with these arrangements just as long as Council Newspapers remain a cost effective and accessible platform for communicating activities to the wider electorate.
For once, you and the Inside Out crowd seem to agree on something.

Council newspapers are mostly about council business and services (at least the Caerffili one is), so to say that these thin papers are going to put mainstream news out of business is ridiculous. Often they are the only means by which the council-tax payer can find out what the council is up to, so they are pretty much essential.

The problem with mainstream media doesn't come from the council, it comes from the media themselves. Argus, Campaign, Echo? are all owned by the same company. How is that good for competition?
In Carmarthenshire the councils newspaper is used to promote a pack of lies and give a false image of itself. This month they have the image of supporting market traders. While in fact the council have bullyboyed the market traders out of the market for a new debenhams to be built. It also promotes the idea that they are an efficient, helpful service. In fact they are a corrupt rabble.
Does anyone, not intimately involved in council affairs actually read them though?

Most seem destined for the litter tray.

I think newspaper managements making massive profits while cutting staff doth protest a bit much about councils taking business in-house though.

Al Iguana, if by Echo, you mean South Wales Echo, then they're not all the same company.

The Echo is Trinity Mirror, the Argus is Newsquest.
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