Local news matters to be debated in Coventry

As part of a wider national campaign to champion local news as an essential component of society, democracy and citizenship, members of the Birmingham & Coventry branch of the National Union of Journalists are holding a special event on Friday, March 31.

Branch chairman Tony Adams said: “Our local NUJ branch is striving to reclaim a vital, vigorous press that is at the heart of the community it serves and is owned and operated in the public interest and put pressure on media companies and other decision-makers who can stop the cuts and increase investment in quality local journalism.”

Meanwhile, new research has shown that more than 400 journalists’ jobs have been lost over the past 17 months, leaving more areas of the UK with no daily local newspaper coverage. A study by Dr Gordon Neil Ramsay, of King’s College, London, found that 273 local authority districts out of a total of 406 had no daily local newspaper coverage – a ratio of 67pc.

There are currently 1,103 local newspaper titles in the UK, according to the findings, which were launched in Parliament by the National Union of Journalists.

The report – entitled Mapping Changes in Local News 2015-7 - reveals a net loss of nine UK regional newspapers between November 2015 and March 2017, with 22 titles closing and 13 launching. It also highlights 30 instances of job cuts announced over a 17-month period involving the loss of 418 jobs.

In addition to the job cuts, re-organisations affected a further 83 jobs, and there were six newspaper office closures, with journalists often being moved long distances away from the communities they serve.

Acting NUJ general secretary Seamus Dooley said: “Journalism is a pillar of democracy and this survey should be of major concern to anyone who cares about local, regional or national government.”

The event is being held at the Kahawa Café in New Union Street, Coventry, from 6 pm until 8 pm.