JPIMedia Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Clifford has urged readers to play their part in ensuring local news continues to be sustainable amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In an article appearing in JPIMedia titles across the UK, Clifford said that few businesses had been left untouched by the coronavirus pandemic and that journalism was not one of them. While communities are finding new ways of coming together and many people were embracing the use of technology to stay in touch, many people would be socially isolated and newspapers were vital in ensuring that people were not cut off.
He said: “There are many of our readers who will be socially isolated. They won’t have access to wifi networks, not everyone is “online” and others do not know how to use their mobile phones for anything other than what they were originally intended for.
“Our newspapers are part of that network. We often describe ourselves as performing a similar role to the village post office, the community pub and the village hall. Our newspapers and websites provide the means by which people can stay in touch, how they can find out the news in their most local of neighbourhoods, and to share their good and sometimes bad news.
The journalism industry was no different from any other business at this time of crisis Clifford said. As newspapers found their advertising income decrease in light of the pandemic. It is necessary for papers to review what they do so that they can continue to provide trusted and verifiable content to readers he said.
Clifford said that he was asking two things of readers. That they continue to send in their news and photos and that they continue to show their support by buying a local newspaper.
He said: “So my first request is for you to send us your photos and your news. Photographs or short videos of what you are doing, when you are out on your once a day exercise and humorous shots at home.
“My second request is this. Providing your news, entertainment and public interest coverage costs money. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers.
“At this time, with so many people on their own or unable to go out, a newspaper can be a true friend. Familiar, honest, powerful, informative — and funny.
“The Government wants newsagents, corner shops and supermarkets to stay open and for newspapers to continue to be made available.
So please help us to fulfil our duties. Keep buying a copy of this paper — and not just for yourself but for neighbours too.
Clifford said that his journalists were working remotely – and in public – to bring readers news and updates day-in-day-out.
He added: “We have a team of journalists working from their bedrooms, studies, kitchen tables, and in the good weather sat outside in their gardens. But we also have them going outside of their homes to report on the public interest journalism the Government has asked us to continue to do.
“We will continue asking questions on your behalf. Keeping you informed, entertained — with great reads. Bringing you local news updates on our websites. Asking the questions you want us to ask of the key decision makers.
“Just as importantly, we will continue to provide you stories that bring our communities together.
“These are precarious times. Our journalism — trained, professional, highly regulated — is funded by your purchase and by advertising.
“We will only be able to continue to do this with your continuing support. Together we will emerge from this crisis. By supporting us, we hope we will be supporting you.”