The Death of the Local Press by Mick Temple, Staffordshire University
This paper takes a clinical look at the current state of one of Britain’s most treasured artefacts – the local printed newspaper – and points the way towards the likely future.
The evidence is overwhelming: rapidly declining sales and radical cost-cutting exercises indicate the daily local printed newspaper will soon be dead. The traditional audience is also literally dying – and to most of our young people, the idea of getting news twelve hours after it has happened in a form which dirties your hands and involves felling half a forest, looks as quaint as relying on a carrier pigeon for the latest football scores. Not only that, but there has been a failure to both prepare and then adapt to the new media landscape. Responding far too late to the online revolu- tion, the conglomerates, who hesitated to invest and now offer user-unfriendly, PR-dominated and print-heavy online sites, face increasing challenges from a new breed of independent local jour- nalism. This does not mean that more considered printed assessments – perhaps a weekly digest and analysis of the last seven day’s events – will not continue and perhaps even prosper. But those who insist upon the continued health of the Evening Herald et al (and there are many within the industry who do so) are ignoring the evidence. Given this, the insistence of the main training and accreditation body on training future journalists according to the wishes of the representatives of a dying industry might seem perverse, and this article will briefly assess the implication of this for journalism educators.