Is the end well and truly nigh for local rags?

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newspapers

As someone who started in grass roots journalism, yesterday’s announcement that MEN Media is slashing 150 jobs and closing all editorial offices comes as no surprise.

The writing’s been on the wall for years as local papers have been squeezed – relying on skeleton staff to do the job of many. It seems their worst fears are now being realised and it certainly won’t stop here.

With newspapers down to pamphlet size, the argument for saving the community’s voice has been lost in favour of salvaging budgets. MEN Media is not the first and won’t be the last in cutting jobs, closing offices and piling on more patches to underpaid reporters.

Admittedly, local rags are frustrating to work on – battling with the WIs over coffee mornings and gardening seminars in no great picnic. But, they’re the very essence of a community; they provide the perfect platform for young and aspiring journalist to learn their trade.

I’m relieved to have moved on from my days covering Parish Councils and local planning disputes, but sad that media institutions are being sacrificed in this harsh climate. It doesn’t do much for local PR either (selfish as it may seem), as the mouthpiece for small businesses falters. Is it time to concede defeat to the online army, or is there hope for black and white press?