Date: 15 February 2011
THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISTS (CIoJ) welcomes the statement from Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, that local authorities will be prevented from publishing weekly or monthly free-sheet newspapers. The CIoJ has made representations on this matter for some time, essentially on the basis that such publications threatened press freedom at the local level.
Threats to press freedom are threats to democracy. The CIoJ believes local newspapers are at the very heart of the communities they serve. They are unique when it comes to the breadth of information they cover in the community. Few other bodies watch and campaign against abuse and incompetence of local organisations.
While there could be journalist job losses as the weekly council papers end, these will be nothing compared to the staggering loss of jobs already experienced within commercial newspapers, caused by the predatory behaviour of the publicly funded council free-sheets.
As a firmly apolitical organisation, the CIoJ would have regarded this action in a positive light regardless of which political party was in government.