The Editor of The Yorkshire Post has called on MPs to lobby the government to do more to support struggling local newspapers during the coronavirus outbreak.
Writing in an open letter to all MPs in Yorkshire, James Mitchinson called on them to urge the government to commit to investing in a significant local media public information campaign and to extend the 100% business rates holiday to news publishers.
Confirming that the coronavirus outbreak had forced the publisher to furlough “a significant number of staff as advertising has stopped coming in”, Mitchinson said that the survival of local papers depended on more support being given.
He said: “I believe that local newspapers are so much more to communities than just a newspaper. We campaign; we council; we care and I am asking you to do those things for the newspapers I look after and the communities they serve.
Mitchinson called on MPs, if willing, to lobby the government on behalf of local publishers.
He added: “Urge government to commit to investing in a significant local media public information campaign. Local newspapers for those which I am responsible are amongst the most trusted sources of news in the country. A message sent by us is far more likely to be trusted and therefore taken seriously than almost any other method of communication.
“[In addition} ask Government to extend the 100% business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses to news publishers. It is perplexing that the business rates holiday has just been extended by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government to miscellaneous businesses – none of which I begrudge that help, incidentally, but not to news publishers which are providing vital (trusted) information and guidance to the public.”