Bid to safeguard local press being backed by Borders MPs and MSPs

A long-term plan intended to safeguard the future of local newspapers such as the Southern Reporter following the current coronavirus crisis is being backed by politicians in the Borders.

Wednesday, 8th July 2020, 8:34 am
July 2's Southern Reporter.

The Scottish Conservatives have launched a newspaper recovery plan in collaboration with the National Union of Journalists, and together they’re urging Holyrood first minister Nicola Sturgeon to take it on board.

It aims to support local newspapers by providing additional funding opportunities, offering rates relief and creating a journalism foundation.

West Scotland Tory list MSP Maurice Golden, his party’s shadow economy secretary, said: “The lockdown has had an extreme impact on local and national media circulations.

“A functioning media is absolutely crucial for a well-functioning democracy. There is simply no option.

“The Scottish Government must support newspapers and ensure their long-term survival.”

That’s a view echoed by John Lamont, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, saying: “Newspapers are a vital part of democracy, whether you access them online or in print. This is especially the case in a local context.

“Titles such as the Southern Reporter play a vital part in local accountability, as well as highlighting local achievements and events.

“The Scottish Conservative plan to help newspapers survive, produced in collaboration with the National Union of Journalists, would help safeguard local titles and local news for many years to come.”

David Mundell, MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, agrees, saying: “I would urge ministers to take on board the Scottish Conservatives’ proposed newspaper recovery plan.

“It is essential for our democracy and communities that local newspapers, and other media, are safeguarded and are able to fulfil their vital role in holding local and national governments and other public bodies to account long after this pandemic is over.”

Rachael Hamilton, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, said: “Local papers are fundamental to local reporting, and I am glad the Scottish Conservatives managed to secure additional financial support for them.

“They are important now, more than ever, when we see an increasingly centralised Scotland where most media is produced in Glasgow and Edinburgh.”

“We need more of a plan from the government to support local journalism so it can enjoy a prosperous and sustainable future.”

Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, added: “This is undoubtedly a challenging time for local papers, which play an important role in keeping people informed about what’s going on in their communities, whether that’s in print or online.

“The Scottish Government has paid already £477,000 initially to local papers for advertising, plus an additional £3m of advertising spend for papers across Scotland to boost their income, with the bulk of that funding going to local papers.

“These payments to local press are paid up front rather than when the advert is placed.

“Having a vibrant, thriving press sector in Scotland is important, and the Scottish Government will continue to engage with unions and industry representatives to ensure jobs and, indeed, local papers can remain.”