local press

local press
   The most famous local newspaper, the Manchester Guardian eventually outgrew Lancashire to become a national daily. The Scotsman in Edinburgh counts as a national newspaper. Papers in Glasgow, Newcastle, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Leeds and Birmingham all have a considerable reputation and maintain generally high standards of journalism, but the majority, which represent smaller towns, tend to confine their activities to parochial matters. Local newspapers act as notice boards for events that frequently interest only the participants and their immediate families, and will rarely involve themselves in serious investigative journalism.
   There are many reasons for this, but the main one is the decline and disappearance of the independent publisher. Markets are much tighter now than thirty or forty years ago, and it is more important for publishers not to offend powerful local advertisers. This was always the case to some extent, but in the pre-television era some editors had more freedom to pursue local issues some of the time. During the growth period of television, which has given more people more access to better entertainment and news services, the local press has fallen into the hands of fewer and fewer owners such as Reed Regional, London Independent and Guardian Gazette Newspapers. Combined with a greatly increased mobility in the labour market, the local paper has become less local in the sense that editors and journalists are less likely to be local people and more likely to be recent graduates beating a path to what was once Fleet Street. Life has been made additionally difficult for them by the freesheets, which carry mainly advertising with scraps of local news and sport tacked on. Like the national press until the 1997 election, most local papers tended to take an implicit right-wing stance on most issues, in line with the politics of their owners. Similarly, standards of journalism and literacy have declined in the local press just as they have in the tabloid press, which the former tend to echo albeit in a more low-key fashion. Taken together, these developments have contributed to homogenization. Some papers will come out in one city and then appear with slight variations in half a dozen other local towns, as is the case in the areas around Canterbury and Leicester. Such is the dependence on advertising revenue that a major advertiser can exert pressure on the editor or the owner for favourable publicity. It is usually left to reporters from the national press or television to highlight serious wrongdoing at a local level.
   Further reading
    Franklin, B. (1991) What News? The Market, Politics and the Local Press, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
   STEPHEN KERENSKY

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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