NS president Adrian Jeakings has written to the Deputy Prime Minister to complain about remarks he made about the press at the recent LibDem party conference.
Posted on: 03 October 2012 09:13
Below is the full text of Adrian Jeakings’ letter:
The Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP
Deputy Prime Minister
London SW1A 2AS
28th September 2012
Dear Mr Clegg,
As president of the Newspaper Society, and chief executive of local media company Archant, I feel compelled to write to you about our concerns over the highly damaging and generalised remarks you made this week, in describing “the press” as “desperate animals around a disappearing waterhole” and questioning the very future of our industry.
The NS represents 1,100 regional and local, daily and weekly newspapers and more than 1600 associated websites and other media platforms. Our industry employs 30,000 people including nearly 10,000 journalists. According to a recent Mediatique report for Ofcom, the local press in print and online is the second biggest spender, after national press, on news in the UK accounting for £490m or 24% of the total – more than is spent on TV news, radio news or online news.
Our titles are also the most trusted of all media, as you yourself acknowledged only last year in your speech to the Newspaper Conference, when you said:
“The underlying strength of your newspapers seems to be growing rather than diminishing. You’ve got more and more readers and crucially you have rates of trust in what you produce which is the envy of many other parts of the media.”
Unsurprisingly, the local press – along with nearly every other industry in the UK - has been hit by the most prolonged and damaging economic downturn in living memory. But despite steep declines in our main source of revenue – advertising – which is a barometer of UK economic performance, we are reaching bigger audiences than ever before across our multimedia platforms. Regional press advertising revenues are forecast to be stable and back in modest growth by the second half of next year, although this is of course dependent on the wider economy improving.
As businesses, we are resilient, innovative and committed to the highest standards of local journalism. Despite what you say, I am quite sure that we will continue to fulfil our unique vital role for the local communities we serve for many years to come.
We will also continue to do that free of any direct public subsidy and will fiercely defend the independence of the UK press as a whole from any form of political or statutory controls.
We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to brief you on the current state of play for the local press and to explain some of the challenges, but also the reasons for our confidence in the future of our sector, which after all represents the vast majority of UK newspapers.
The Newspaper Society