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Waiting for the tap on the shoulder

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Waiting for the tap on the shoulder

Working for local newspapers is like Hunger Games for journalists, says one exasperated hack, quoted here in The Guardian.

Mark Sweney notes that Reach, the biggest regional newspaper owner, has had two rounds of job cuts in two months.

More seem likely. The business model is broken – 300 local papers have shut in the last decade as print advertising moves to Google and Facebook.

 “Right now the mood is the lowest I have ever known it,” says one veteran news journalist. “Many local journalists feel they are working day to day, waiting for that tap on the shoulder saying they are part of the next cuts.”

The shift online remains, “largely a case of giving up print pounds for digital pennies”.

Back at the end of the good old days, the early 90s, the Nottingham Evening Post, established in 1878, won a prestigious award.

I can’t remember exactly for what and Google isn’t telling me, but I do remember the tribute from the judges that was emblazoned across one wall of the newsroom.

It went: “Six nights a week it is out there with its fists up, fighting for its city, fighting for its readers.”

It was stirring stuff, which made the story about the wheelie bins row at Rushcliffe Borough Council seem worth doing.

The weakness of the local press is a clear gain for the PR trade.

The papers are so desperate for content that even the lowliest press releases have got a chance.

Sent nationwide, a release that just changes the top paragraph to the right locality (A man from Reading, 70% of people in Dorking, Women in Sheffield….) might go everywhere.

In the longer run even that can’t be sustainable. The client who is today pleased at the wide local newspaper coverage his PR firm got for him might soon notice that this amounted to very few readers.

And if it’s easy to do, can it be worth doing?

In the end the hack/flak dynamic only works if there is tension; a bit of a fight going on.

You’ll miss us when we’re gone.

Press release of the day

Really punchy stuff from L&G here about the failure, so far, of the government’s levelling up agenda.

The views of CEO Nigel Wilson already made the front of today’s FT.

But there’s more in what L&G describes as “quite alarming” research which shows that 95% of UK working households have taken a real-terms pay cut in the last year.

Sir Nigel is retiring, so can afford to be bold. Not many of his peers do the same.

Stories that will keep rolling

1) How badly is the cost of living issue hitting Ocado?

2) Will net zero mean our energy bills are higher or lower?

3) Is the worst of the banking crisis over?

4) Should John Lewis offer shares in itself to customers?

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