Alison Gow brings together two current areas of debate for local media groups: charging for online content and their supposed role in local democracy by scrutinising local authorities in their coverage.
Gow, who is involved in Trinity Mirror’s work with the Press Association regarding a potential ‘public service reporting’ initiative in Merseyside, has audited the TM titles in her region to assess the number of public authority reports carried by the papers on a weekly basis.
Where the gaps in coverage lie makes for interesting reading, but addition Gow asks:
“Readers may pay to access other services alongside news, but I just don’t see news itself as a big enough lure.
“Also, just to take this argument to the extreme, if newspapers are going to hold themselves up as the moral guardians of what’s right, scrutinising public bodies and holding them to account, is it ethical that they charge for this benevolent service at all?”