NEWS RELEASE

Release time: 3 December2008

The Chartered Institute of Journalists has asked the House of Commons Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sports to hold an urgent hearing into the crisis affecting Britain’s newspapers.

Job losses, title and office closures along with axing of editions – mainly at the larger newspaper groups – has ‘potentially disastrous consequences’ for the future of democracy, as well as the profession, and demands an urgent examination by the Select Committee, the Institute has told Mr John Whittingdale, the Committee’s chairman.

Robin Morgan, chairman of the Institute’s Professional Practices Board, said: “In its own way, this crisis is now as bad as that affecting the banking industry. Vast areas of Britain will be denied their traditional local news coverage because of all these cutbacks.  And that will have serious implications for the operation of our cherished democratic processes – not to mention the future of our profession.”

It is clear that the bulk of the mayhem is being created by the larger publishing groups.  “This calls into question the abilities and perceived responsibilities of their senior managements.  Are they more interested in maintaining group profits to impress the stock market, or are they truly committed to proper news coverage?” said Mr Morgan.

“Newspapers will survive through their news coverage retaining the loyalty of readers, but once the readership notices the inevitable consequences of these cuts, through fewer relevant stories, they may just stop buying and the spiral will intensify. Interestingly, independently-owned newspapers are not figuring much in the figures which suggests an interesting conclusion,” said Institute general secretary, Dominic Cooper.

The Institute pointed out that concern is now widespread and the recent Society of Editors’ conference heard calls for public subsidies to help the struggling industry maintain local news services.

Ends+

For further information please contact:

Dominic Cooper: 020-7252-1187

Robin Morgan: by e-mail at robinmorgan@cioj.co.uk

Notes for Editors:
Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.

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