Health warning close to home

Date: Monday 25th February 2019

THIS issue comes with a Government health warning — and sadly it deals with an ailment that could not be more close to home.

On Page 3, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright voices his support for local newspapers which are coming under increasing pressure due to a number of factors.

In the main these are declining advertising revenues and falling circulation, from which this newspaper has not been immune, as a result of the development through the internet of different ways of feeding people’s appetite for news.

As Mr Wright points out, one of the prices being paid as a result is damage to democracy through a loss of high quality, public interest journalism.

This is not merely scaremongering: in the last decade more than 300 local newspapers have closed and the number of journalists has dropped by 6,000.

One of the suggested remedies is a doubling of journalists funded through the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the cost of which is met by the BBC. The problem with that, however, is that the initiative is not designed to help small, independent papers such as this one which continue to invest in the quality of their journalism.

The Herald has been at the heart of the com-munities it serves for almost 160 years. During that time it has faced a number of threats to its survival, but probably none more potent than the challenge of the internet age.

Mr Wright is correct when he says everyone needs to play their part in ensuring the press has a sustainable future — and a vital part of that is local people supporting their local paper in any way they can.