Regional newspapers need government supports during Covid, similar to funding already being provided to independent commercial radio stations, a meeting heard this week.
At an online meeting of the local authority, councillors gave their full support to FG Cllr Eileen Lynch’s motion that the government provide extra supports to regional newspapers, which she said provide an essential service to many communities in county Cork during the pandemic.
‘Never have regional newspapers been more important than they have in the last 12 months. Regional newspapers provide in-depth coverage on local issues which are not generally covered in the national newspapers or radio,’ said Cllr Lynch.
‘Local Ireland, which represents 42 local newspapers across the country estimate that up to 91% of the revenue of local paper comes from local businesses, in particularly the hospitality and food industry, which has been devastated by the effects of Covid. Advertising revenue in 2020 fell on average by 22% and 2021 is already seeing steeper falls of anything between 20% to 40%.’
Cllr Lynch said the government needs to ensure they assist regional newspapers to carry on with the great work they do and provide the same funding to them similar to radio stations.
Cllr Lynch also said the government should be considering allocating more of its advertising to regional newspapers as they have not been included in many of the Covid-19 advertising and communications campaigns run nationally.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said newspapers like The Southern Star bring a lot of local news around communities throughout West Cork and pointed out that the paper recently appointed its first female editor.
‘All these newspapers have suffered drastically over the past year, especially because businesses are closed and newspapers are struggling and some support should be made available to them,’ said Cllr Collins
Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said that with the rise of ‘fake news’ reliable journalism really has to be supported.
‘At local level it creates community cohesion and creates a sense of community identity and I certainly think they should support them both in paper format and support them in creating digital content. This is crucial for local democracy,’ said Cllr Coughlan.
‘It’s almost surprising that the government hasn’t these supports in place for local newspapers.’
Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said newspapers’ revenue stream has been decimated over the past year.
‘If we don’t copperfasten them now quickly, we will lose them,’ he warned.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) also highlighted The Southern Star, which he said, not only provides local news and sport, but is also a great employer.
‘West Cork wouldn’t be the same without The Southern Star,’ said Cllr Carroll.
Councillors agreed that they ask Minister Catherine Martin to provide these supports.