Trinity Mirror announced yesterday they were closing two of their local papers in South Wales – the Neath and Port Talbot Guardian papers.
Cost implications have been cited in a move that will cut a number of journalist’s jobs (although this is part of a company-wide move in Trinity Mirror which has seen another set of redundancies announced in Birmingham).
Alun Edmunds, the publishing director for Media Wales, said the readership will still be served by Trinity who will cover the area with The Western Mail.
That’s good to hear, but it does leave a problem – there’s a huge difference between having your own local paper which devotes all its coverage to what is happening in your community and having the big local covering events from over 40 miles away.
I find this a bit ironic the week after my colleague Andy Williams appeared on BBC breakfast talking about the impact of newspaper closures on communities.
I’m all for hyperlocal sites expanding into these area – but it does leave a crucial problem. The 2001 census gives the Neath/Port Talbot area a population of some 134,468 with over 15 per cent being listed as retired. I wonder how many of them have broadband access?
So maybe, what could happen in towns where we lose papers are collectives or co-operatives where journalists and the community work together to create print and hyperlocal. There are issues with economy of scale and more to be thought about – but is this impossible?
I recently read an interesting piece on the Nieman Lab called Newspapers get the kind of communities they deserve
All we have left is the trust that our readers — that our community — have in us. And how do we gain and keep that trust? By telling them the truth — but also by listening to them and valuing their input, and making them an equal partner in what we are doing. Only then will we get the kind of community that really matters.
Although the piece was primarily looking at a news outlets online community, I really like the quote by author Mathew Ingram.
Can we use co-operative techniques, coupled with the best of online and offline distribution to work with and alongside a community to keep the news relevant and local.
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