FoI request reveals cost of new council-run newspaper

A new council-run newspaper in East London will cost almost £600,000 a year to run, according to figures made available under the Freedom of Information Act.

Press Gazette revealed last month that Barking and Dagenham Council was planning to launch The News at the end of May, distributed to 90,000 homes, business, train stations and schools each fortnight.

The move was described by the editor of the local Archant weekly, the Barking and Dagenham Recorder, as “a stab in the back”. Chris Carter told us that the council would be pulling advertising from his paper, at a cost of about £75,000 a year.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show the new paper will cost £250,000 to distribute, and a further £318,350 to staff.

But the council told Channel 4 News yesterday that the new title would give better value for money than the three separate publications it currently produces.

The Local Government Association put out a report this week downplaying the threat of council titles to established regional papers. According to its research, the majority of council publications are distributed on an infrequent basis.

“Councils do not operate their own publications to jeopardise the future of the local paper,” LGA chairman Margaret Eaton said. “Local authority publications keep residents informed about what the council does and can do for them.”

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