Local newspapers are ‘community assets’

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards has called for local newspapers to be given protected status as ‘community assets’ in order to protect their often unique and historical blend of community news and investigation.

Mr Edwards said that through nominating treasured but threatened local newspapers as a community asset, owners would not be able to close titles overnight and there would be a consultation on the paper’s future and allowing new owners the time to put together a bid for the paper.

Questioning the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Mr Edwards expressed concern about the decline of the print newspaper industry, including local papers which are represented by many excellent talented journalists who are embedded in their community.

He said that Welsh communities would be best served by a mixture of print, broadcast and online media.

Mr Edwards said:

“Welsh newspapers are a treasured part of our heritage, reflecting a mix of local news, views and sports coverage.

“They are a place where many excellent journalists work and become part of their communities.

“However they are increasingly under threat as part of a wider shift in readership habits and, sometimes, poor management.

“The Localism Act created a form of ‘community assets’ which could not be sold off without consultation.

“If local papers could be included in this definition then it would recognise their local importance and prevent owners from closing down newspapers overnight and give time for new owners to come in, perhaps including a takeover by the local community.

“As the powers for this are in Westminster, I have pushed the Secretary of State to expand the category of ‘community assets’ to include local newspapers and allow the Welsh Government to be able to do this to save any newspapers in Wales which come under threat.

“Wales needs to have a blend of media, including broadcast, online and print.”

ENDS

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