Local journalism faces many challenges. But the future offers opportunity and significance in the modern media world.
Many local newspapers saw online as the future 10-15 years ago and they were right. But now they are struggling to be significant in that space when so many people take their news from social media. Meanwhile, Facebook and Google Adwords are taking local advertising budgets. In the past, they might have expected local services to use their online platforms to reach customers in their community. That revenue is vital to support independent local journalism.
Using owned media
Local journalism abides by laws and best practice that means journalists are accountable and professional in their research and presentation of verifiable facts. They know how to separate propaganda and spin from real news. Their scrutiny of councils and public officials is invaluable. But many public sector bodies now communicate through their owned media instead. Where is the scrutiny? Where is the alternative viewpoint? We don’t always want information about our Council to come from our Council.
There is hope. Journalists have a vital role to play in campaigning on local issues. Supported by PRs we can make a real difference to our communities. Save the local hospital, make the streets safer, fill the potholes. These local issues matter and provide real differentiation for local newspapers. Rather than comment on national issues, they have the skills to turn local problems into solutions through inventive, tenacious campaigns.