MPs have urged Johnston Press to keep the Sunderland Echo as a daily newspaper.
Local MP Julie Elliott was quoted in the paper this week saying that she was a ‘big fan of daily local papers’because they ‘give that street-by-street news people love that the big national papers cannot do”.
‘It is essential for Sunderland to keep the Echo as it is,’she said. ‘The benefits of a daily compared to a weekly paper are immeasurable. With a weekly you can miss out on important day-to-day news.”
Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, added: ‘Local newspapers bind communities together and the Sunderland Echo is a prime example. Throughout the many years it has been in circulation, the Echo has been a trusted source of community news and has also led campaigns that have received national recognition.
‘It is important that it remains a daily paper so that the people of Wearside get up-to-date information on what is happening locally, rather than just a weekly round-up of news.”
Their comments come a month the newspaper’s owners Johnston Press announced that five of its daily newspapers were becoming weeklies: Scarborough Evening News, Halifax Courier, Northampton Chronicle and Echo, Peterborough Evening Telegraph and Northants Evening Telegraph.
In a recent presentation to investors, chief executive Ashley Highfield said that by 2020 all of its titles would be ‘digital first’and that ‘few daily print products’will remain, but later said there would be no further daily conversions this year.
Another Sunderland MP, Sharon Hodgson, told the paper: ‘The Echo is one of Sunderland’s defining institutions. It is easily one of the best local papers in the country, due in no small part to the fact that it is daily.
‘Because it is daily, it can cover far more local stories and play a much bigger role in local life than it could as a weekly, and I sincerely hope that’s not the way we are heading.”
In the second half of last year the Sunderland Echo had a circulation of 30,654, which was down 10.3 per cent year on year.