Labour councillor for Haughton West, Nick Wallis, responds to comments made by Northern Echo editor Peter Barron about the impact of council newspapers on the local press.
Wallis says he isn’t sure council budget cutting will inevitably lead to the closure of local authority publications (much criticised by the local media for their impact on advertising revenues and local democratic coverage).
“A key point is that a lot of local newspapers, do not operate like the Echo which is broadly fair in its treatment of news stories. It’s a bum rap if whatever you do, no matter how well, the local paper slags you off as ‘loony left’ because of the general political bias of the media group. It’s precisely the one-eyed nature of a lot of the local press that generated the growth of council magazines, because local authorities wanted to talk directly to their residents, and avoid the hostile spin continually imposed by media,” writes Wallis.
However, he later adds that councils should do more to support local media and encourage a ‘strong, independent local press’.
“At the same time, local papers have to accept that councils have the right to communicate directly with their residents, and not always have to have their news reflected through the prism of the paper,” he says.