Strand News agency optimistic after newsdesks appeal

The owner of London court reporting agency Strand News is optimistic his business will survive after a positive response by newsdesks to an appeal for help sent out last week.

Strand News has been covering the Royal Courts of Justice in London – the High Court and the Appeal Court – for 20 years, with a focus on serving the regional press.

Editor James Brewster warned newsdesks around the country in a letter last week that his agency might not survive the year.

He said: “We report on the doings of the high judiciary, one of the three estates of government, and we believe that our role is one of constitutional, as well as commercial, importance. If we were to disappear, we think that a very substantial hole would be left in the news coverage of almost every media outlet in the country.

“That would be a tragedy for our very experienced reporting team. It would, I think, also raise very serious questions over the media’s collective ability to fund a real newsgathering effort at the heart of government.”

He urged news editors to help Strand News survive by using the service, dealing with invoices quickly and settling outstanding invoices before the end of June.

Brewster told Press Gazette today that he believes the agency, which employs seven journalists, will survive: “We’ve had a good response and we are very hopeful that we will make it.”

He said: “We are definitely not going to give up without a fight and I would like to express my gratitude for the very moving expressions of support we have had from many newsdesks across the country.

“We are a small, but very strategic, business and, if we receive a little goodwill and support from our customers, we should be here for many years to come.”

Describing the Royal Courts of Justice as the biggest source of news in the country, Brewster explained that the Court of Appeal, criminal division, for instance deals with sentence and conviction appeals for nearly every criminal case in the country: “You can’t really say you are covering crime without knowing what the end of the process is.”

He said: “At the moment I am pretty much keeping this business afloat myself. Looking to the future I am optimistic that when the recession is over our services will be in demand. Afterall, what’s a newspaper without content?

‘I know the regional newspaper newsdesks have had their budgets slashed to the bone. But the management of these companies should be giving some thought to maintaining the basics of newsgathering to make sure that when things improve there is still content.

‘If we were to disappear it would be a disaster, not just for us but for every regional newspaper in the country.”

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