It's been a pretty grim day for publishers of local + regional newspapers with yet more announcements of some quite savage cuts in the industry and the unwelcome news of an independent publisher going into administration. The Kent Messenger Group is not immune and we are in the midst of a proposal to lose some 150 jobs, including those of editorial staff.
Aside from the obvious trauma for those whose jobs are on the line, there are some major questions about how this contraction in the industry will affect one of the key roles of local newspapers, namely holding our democratically-elected representatives to account. There hasn't been much debate about this side of things but it is beginning to get some traction with one Labour MP - a former journalist Dennis McShane - mooting the idea of public subsidies for newspapers.Â I'm personally a little uneasy about the idea but it's hard to disagree with his thesis that "whereas it is possible to have politicians without democracy, I do not
believe that it is possible to have democracy without independent
journalism, and print media are essential; digital media could never
replace them." Â
If local newspapers are not around to ask awkward questions of councils and others, who will?