Calls have been made for the government to find a creative way to support local newspapers throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
The Green Party have said that different options should be considered given that many local communities are in danger of losing their trusted news source due to the dramatic decline in advertising revenue in recent weeks.
Green Party spokesperson for Communications Deputy Brian Leddin said: “We have already seen the worrying reports of fake news being spread online and through messaging platforms like WhatsApp. Local newspapers are trusted in this country. There is a public health need for there to be trusted local news outlets to ensure that people receive information that is accurate, fair and accountable,” he said.
Deputy Leddin went on to say that any support that can be given to journalists to improve security at this time must be.
“Owners of local newspapers should not use the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to cut staffing levels where the underlying business is profitable,” he said.
Deputy Leddin believes that as well as an immediate funding crisis, there is a long term challenge for the sector.
“In the medium term we do need a Commission on the future of the media to examine options to make sure local media is sustainable, looking at best practice in other countries,” he said.
“There will be a public health impact, especially in rural areas, if local newspapers are allowed to close. In the immediate term I would encourage everyone to buy a copy of their local paper, either with their essential shop or online, to support a trusted source of local news.”