Parliament launches inquiry into future of local media

A cross-party group of MPs has launched a wide-ranging inquiry into the future of local and regional journalism in response to the cutbacks and job losses currently engulfing the media.

The culture, media and sport select committee has invited comments from interested parties ahead of a series of face-to-face meetings later this year.

Since last summer, more than 1,000 journalists’ jobs are believed to have been cut from regional newspapers. Dozens of newspapers have closed and many towns have lost their newspaper offices.

Among the issues the committee will look at are “the impact of newspaper closures on independent local journalism” and “how to fund quality journalism”.

The group, chaired by Conservative MP John Whittingdale, is also seeking views on the effect search engines and online content aggregators are having on the local media, and what the BBC’s partnership proposals could mean for its rivals.

The committee said it would look at the “appropriateness and effectiveness” of council-funded media, such as newspapers and television channels.

The case for relaxing the cross-media ownership rules – which is currently being reviewed by the Office of Fair Trading – will also be discussed.

Yesterday, the Society of Editors and the Newspaper Society issued culture secretary Andy Burnham with an action plan to help save the regional newspaper industry.

Members of the National Union of Journalists met MPs yesterday afternoon in a special lobby of parliament to discuss the challenges currently facing British journalism.

The deadline for written submission to the select committee’s inquiry is 13 May.

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