Local media isn’t just about information. It’s about identity, heritage, and who we are.
Thankfully, the Yorkshire Post remains secure, for the time at least. Its parent company, Johnson Press, was placed into administration, and then quickly bought out of administration, at the end of last week. Now called JPI Media.
Do we still need local newspaper media? What value does it bring? And is there a way to future proof our local titles?
Firstly, local newspaper media is hugely valuable to local communities. Where else do we get local news? How frequently do the Nationals cover stories from Sheffield, or Leeds, or Wakefield? Infrequently at best, and then only the bad news. The goings on in Washington DC gets more coverage in the nationals of the UK than any of our own Northern towns or cities. And whilst US politics may have Global reach, we are entirely spectators in it, having no say in any American politics whatsoever. Local media is far more relevant to our lives.
Our National newspapers are almost unreachable, in terms of providing them with news and stories. They are continuously bombarded by PR agencies, and local business news will almost never make their pages. Local media provides a vital function for local businesses, from news to recruitment to publicity and appeals. And most of it’s good news.
And there’s the issue of heritage and identity. Our local papers are like our local football teams. They’ve been in our towns and cities for many decades, in some instances, hundreds of years. The Yorkshire Post started as a weekly in 1754, titled the Leeds Intelligencer, before re-titling as The Yorkshire Post and going daily in 1866. It’s part of our history, and truly is Yorkshires National Newspaper. It’s over 250 years old.
The challenge of course is the commercial aspect. Print media was a revolution, a massively powerful World changer. The digital revolution overthrew the print powerhouses, and they’ve had to fight their own fights ever since, working out how to adapt and survive the dual media age. Done well, it’s a huge opportunity, having print and digital media is like having two legs. The company can run, if it can work out how to co ordinate them, if it can be willing to evolve and adapt. And the structure of the companies may have to change, to become more localised, more community focused.
A truly local paper might like to crowdfund from it’s own local community, in doing so engaging the entire town or cities in the company, and in the news process.
Perhaps that’s how Local News can make revival, by localising the companies. A centralised digital platform, and localised print titles.
The way is there, I’m certain. Keep buying the papers, people of Yorkshire. You’d miss them if they went.
To be continued… For another 250 years and more.
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