Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Decline of Local News (The Oundle Chronicle)

Local newspapers are under threat. With print advertising in decline and the internet becoming a more popular means for communicating news, the number of local newspapers has fallen significantly. Michael Pelosi, president of the Newspaper Society said: “This is a very difficult time for everyone in our industry”.

In our net-driven world, a major age divide is growing. Young people tend to use blogs and other web sources for their news, whereas older people prefer papers. Furthermore, younger people are less concerned about local news, and are much less involved with their communities. What will this mean for the future of local news, or is there one at all?

Nene Valley News is East Northamptonshire Council’s free community newspaper, and focuses its news and information solely on East Northamptonshire. It is written for the residents, and indeed anybody can submit articles to the editor. As it is free, it is delivered to over 37,000 homes and businesses, every two weeks as a public service.

Due to national legislation to be introduced next year, Nene Valley News will no longer be published. It has announced that its last edition will be in March 2014. Nene Valley News would be in violation of the legislation if it continued to be published, because it is subsidised by the council, rather than self-funded, which is considered to be anti-competitive to newspapers which have to rely on advertising and sales.

In the past few years, over 60 local newspapers have been forced to close throughout the country due to the fall in advertising and sales. The legislation aims to create more opportunities for local newspapers to thrive.

Nevertheless, many residents in the region value the Nene Valley News, and will be disappointed to learn of its demise.

There may be private individuals or partnerships that wish to step into the void. The new Town Manager would like to see a replacement paper and is considering how to attract commercial interest in a local newspaper.

East Northamptonshire Council has set up a survey asking readers to report how they prefer to receive local news, whether it be over the radio or in print. Of course, the internet is certainly an option for local news, and most newspapers have an online edition. It will certainly be interesting to find out how the council can continue to inform its constituencies about local issues.

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