Spate of newspaper closures further blow to Welsh media

The closure of a number of local newspapers in Wales over the last week has caused the Assembly Government and a series of local politicians to raise concerns about the deteriorating state of the Welsh media.

The Assembly Government raised fears with Press Gazette about the long-term future of local and national journalism in Wales as numerous cuts in recent months have impacted the sector, saying it was ‘very concerned’ by recent developments.

An Assembly spokesman said: “The Welsh Government is aware of the importance a successful and thriving newspaper and journalism industry in Wales…Welsh citizens are not best served by the UK’s national print media.

“Regional news outlets have a key role to play in ensuring that people can read about events and decisions which affect their everyday lives in the newspapers. Safeguarding original and local journalism is in all our interests. That is why it is also important to safeguard the jobs of journalists who are working on the ground.”

Regional publisher Trinity Mirror unveiled plans last week to close three of its weekly newspapers in Wales with the loss of around 26 jobs.

Planned closure of the Neath Guardian and Port Talbot Guardian by Trinity’s Media Wales division raised concerns of Welsh Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones.

He said: “The announcement by Media Wales of 15 job losses is disappointing, as is the news that the Neath and Port Talbot Guardian titles are to disappear.

“Local papers have historically been not only a key medium of discussion for local issues but also a campaigning force within their local communities and I am saddened to hear of the demise of another local title.”

Hywel Francis, Labour MP for Aberavon, expressed his own concerns for the closure of papers serving his constituency.

He said: “I am extremely sorry to hear of the immediate closure of the Guardian which has served my Aberavon constituency and the neighbouring constituency of Neath for so many decades with its community news service, local campaigning and sports news.

“Whilst we all recognise that the new information systems provided by the internet have contributed to declining circulation, there is no real substitute yet for the potential of locally based newspapers.”

Francis said he hoped the South Wales Evening Post, the only local paper left in his constituency, would now re-build its local coverage in Port Talbot and surrounding communities.

A spokesman Neath and Port Talbot Council said the closure of the papers would be a blow to the local community.

He said: “We will be sad to see the loss of the Neath and Port Talbot Guardian which has had such a rich tradition of providing essential local community news and information for many years.”

In addition to these titles, Trinity also announced plans to close North Wales weekly, the Wrexham Chronicle, last week.

A spokesman Wrexham Council called the decision to shut the Chronicle ‘very disappointing’ as it came at a time of worrying decline for newspapers locally.

Announcement of the newspaper closures will come as a further blow to the already dwindling Welsh media.

Last September, the Big Issue moved publication of its Welsh edition to Scotland, making two of its three local staff – including the editor – redundant and leaving just a single reporter.

It emerged in August, that the Times Educational Supplement was also downgrading its Welsh edition by closing its local office and making five staff redundant – again including the editor – and also leaving it with just a single reporter in Wales as TES’s London editor assumed full responsibility for the title.

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