NUJ to lobby parliament over journalism cutbacks

The National Union of Journalists is organising a lobby of MPs to raise awareness of the effect cutbacks are having on local journalism.

The union said it was planning a meeting in parliament at 2pm on Wednesday 25 March – where representatives from local chapels could ask their MPs for support.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “We’re calling on journalists across the country to tell their elected representatives about the damage being inflicted on local media.

“Our members are already having to cope with insufficient staffing levels and newsrooms that are remote from the communities they serve.

“It’s important for MPs and local councillors to know the impact it’s having on quality journalism.”

According to the NUJ, more than 800 journalists are preparing to take industrial action over job cuts in nationals, regionals and magazines.

“Journalism matters because it holds decision makers to account and ties our local communities together,” Dear added.

“Yet that’s exactly what’s damaged when editorial resources are cut and ownership consolidated.

“The parliamentary lobby will be a chance to tell MPs that any government help – be it taxpayers’ money or a relaxation in ownership rules – must be accompanied by strict guaranties that will protect and strengthen investment in journalism.”

In his interim Digital Britain report, published last month, communications minister Stephen Carter asked Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading to review whether there was a case for ownership rules governing the local media to be relaxed.

The NUJ has said it is concerned that a relaxation might be used to cut costs further.

John McDonnell MP, the secretary of the NUJ Parliamentary Group, added: “The Government have a responsibility to protect the integrity and future of local news and not just prop up the profits of the businesses whose actions have not only undermined the quality of local journalism but threatened the very survival of many local services.”

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