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An Editors Life (21st April 2021)

Press Officer Rick Purnell writes..........

Speaker David Scott suggested that it was last of the Local Newspapers?

26 members and visitors attended this month’s meeting to appreciate a returning speaker, David Scott’s presentation of his talk “An Editors Life”. David believes he has retired from a wonderful and fulfilling job that will be no more within the next 5 years. David entered the newspaper business as an indentured apprentice in the 1960’s and worked his way up from a junior reporter through several newspapers to become editor in chief and culminating in creating and running a School for Journalist. Some 9000 student journalists have passed through his Academy. Reporter journalism is a public service, providing filtered and edited news rather than ‘Fake News’ so familiar associated with the internet/social media. As such it is far far more than just a business enterprise. Sadly almost all of the former family owned local newspapers have been bought up by 5 mega investment corporations covering 90% of newsprint. Sadly, their goal is all about the returns on capital rather than ‘as a News Service’. Newspapers used to be giving returns exceeding 25%+ but those days have long gone with advertising revenue moving away from newspapers towards the Internet. He reported that the National Union of Journalists are losing 400+ jobs each year, Press Photographers have gone as have senior Journalists. There is no new training. As profit margins are squeezed, the mega owners work to a profit line by withdrawing employment, cutting branches and other resources like moving from daily to weekly issues. It will not be the internet that kills off local newspapers but the lust for profit by remote and irresponsible owners – Death by a 1000 Plots.

There are just a few ‘old family run businesses’ left like Tindle Newspapers ‘the last of the line’. Newsprint all started in the 17th/18th C with Newsletters for political or religious purpose in family ownership developing into local regular newspapers run by local people and reporting on all matters of local interest.  Society will be worse off when it goes.

The big buyouts continued until the 1990’s but the 1992 recession saw the beginning of cutbacks with declining revenues which have never returned. The ‘big advertisers’ were job vacancies, particularly the NHS, House sales car sales and the like. The NHS moved to their own web, as have many housing and employment agencies, the ‘adds’ pages are now comparatively small to what they used to be. Yes things have moved on and we need to respond to the times but there is still a viable model to keep the local newspapers alive and still give a 10% return. Many local ‘Free’ papers are also closing down.

Journalism is not without risk. More than 100 journalist have been killed world-wide just ‘doing the job’.

Lets hope local news will return to local owners otherwise, there will be No looking into ‘stories’, NO social conscience, NO reporting, NO investigations in the public interest, NO third party reporting on local activities/meetings. Sadly, there are so many 3 year Media Courses in our Education system for which  there are simply insufficient jobs left in the market to use these skills.

 The vote of thanks was given by member Steve Battersby. 

The next meeting is by Roger Avery about  “My Life with worms”

P.S. This report was not taken up by our local press this time.