Conservative leader David Cameron has promised to relax cross-media ownership rules if his party wins the General Election. Some in the industry promote this as a partial solution to the crisis in local journalism. A less generous view is that the Conservative Party is courting popularity with local media owners (Political party woos money and votes shocker, man detained!).

I think this is a necessary but insufficient response to an escalating problem. Permitting a reduction in local media diversity may help some local news companies survive in the short term, but it won't teach them how to prosper in the convergent era, still less how to serve the public sphere. That will take innovation, investment and a long-term commitment to the high quality local journalism upon which British democracy has long been able to rely.  Purist, moi? Jamais. 


The problem with this "solution" is that - short term, at least - it is likely to lead to further rationalisation among newspaper groups who decide to join forces. In other words, more journalists are likely to lose their jobs. I also think diversity in the sector is actually something to be encouraged, notwithstanding commercial imperatives that are so relevant in our "perfect storm."

For an interesting perspective on the plight confronting the regional newspaper sector, there was a very good piece in The Guardian on Friday (Section 2). I recommend it. It mentions the role of bloggers and citizen journalism and carries a great quote from the guy who made the TV series The Wire about the fact that you don't get many internet journalists covering court cases - or council meetings, come to that..


Cameron to the Rescue?