SOLIHULL’S MP Lorely Burt has said that local newspapers need to be supported through the tough economic climate.
Speaking this week, the MP highlighted the difficulties facing many local titles battling the downturn. There are also concerns that some newspapers might be forced out of the market if the BBC goes ahead with plans to set up local news websites.
During a Westminster debate, Mrs Burt said that the corporation should work in collaboration with local newspapers to ensure the survival of community news reporting.
“Local newspapers are the bedrock for community news and an essential training ground for budding journalists,” she said.
“Too many titles around the country are going to the wall, and with the current financial crisis squeezing classified advertising revenue and circulation figures further still, many more could be forced to close in the coming months.”
The threat posed by the BBC prompted Ross Crawford, the series editor for Trinity Mirror’s Solihull titles, to write to Mrs Burt. In it, he summarised many of the difficulties currently facing local publications. In particular, he voiced concern about the BBC’s proposals to set up websites at a local level.
“The problem with the development of BBC local websites is that the BBC is a public-funded body and will not be accountable to people living in the community.
“Our journalists offer relevant, local news that affects residents both here in Solihull and in the surrounding community.”
The BBC recently unveiled a prototype of their websites.