Report on the sustainability of local journalism welcomed

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The cross-party Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee hearing evidence.

The Public Interest News Foundation (PINF) has welcomed the cross-party Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee’s report on the sustainability of local news, which was released this week, and calls on the Government to adopt its recommendations as a matter of urgency.

The report sets out in stark terms the threats facing local news in the United Kingdom and outlines several steps the Government must take to ensure that local news providers can continue informing and engaging their communities. These include establishing a public interest news fund, facilitating philanthropic funding to local news publishers, and ensuring that forthcoming digital markets legislation will allow smaller publishers of local news to reach fair commercial relationships with tech giants like Google and Meta.

Jonathan Heawood, Executive Director of PINF, said: ‘We are thrilled that the committee has recognised the immense value that local news brings to democracy. We are particularly glad to see the committee’s acknowledgement of the crucial role played by small, independent news publishers. These publishers must be fairly remunerated by the big tech platforms if they are to thrive in the digital economy. They must also be able to access public funding and philanthropic support as the committee recommends.’

The report follows the committee’s inquiry into the state of local news in the UK. PINF made a detailed submission to the inquiry and coordinated further submissions from independent publishers through the ‘News for All’ campaign, which is calling on the government to establish a public interest news fund; to ensure that small publishers are fairly remunerated by big tech platforms; and to create new tax incentives for public interest news. All three recommendations have been endorsed by the committee.

Independent local news providers also welcomed the Committee’s recommendations.

Phil Bowen, editor of Midlothian View, said: ‘There are lots of small, independent and innovative hyperlocals, like Midlothian View, across the UK that are covering local news and making a great job of it whilst operating on a shoestring. It would not take too much of a diversion of Government advertising at a local, Scottish and UK level to really make a difference to these publishers. They have comparatively low overheads so a slice of the advertising pie would quickly put them in a sustainable position from which they could grow the depth of coverage of local news that readers enjoy.’

David Floyd of Social Spider CIC, which publishes community newspapers in North and Central London, said: ‘Across the UK, corporate newspaper groups receive millions of pounds of public funding through local and central government advertising, whilst independent local publishers are left out in the cold. The Committee is right to say that this funding should be audited and allocated fairly across the sector.’

Eliz Mizon of the Bristol Cable said: ‘We know that our journalism has a positive impact, but we’re a small organisation with limited resources. If there was a public interest news fund to support organisations like the Bristol Cable, we could do so much more for the people of Bristol and beyond.’

Joshi Herrmann of The Mill in Manchester said: ‘I’m glad that the Committee has acknowledged the innovative models of news publishing that are going on across the independent sector. With a dedicated fund for innovation, we could see many more start-up publications like The Mill.’

Rhiannon Davies of Greater Govanhill in Glasgow said: ‘The Select Committee is echoing the recommendations of the Scottish Public Interest Journalism Working Group. Now it’s time for action to support truly local journalism in all parts of the UK.’

Richard Gurner of the Caerphilly Observer said: ‘Independent local publishers are playing a vital role in communities across the UK. We need a fair share of funding so that we can compete on a level playing field with corporate publishers.’

Una Murphy of VIEWDigital said: ‘We rely on philanthropic support to provide our community-centred news coverage in Northern Ireland, and we welcome anything that encourages philanthropists to support local news, as recommended by the Committee.’

If you would like to support Midlothian View you can do so HERE.

You can read the full report DCMS – Sustainability of local journalism HERE.

Midlothian MP signs Holocaust Educational Trust Book of Commitment

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Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

This week Owen Thompson MP signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today.

Holocaust Memorial Day falls on 27th January every year, the anniversary of the liberation of the infamous former Nazi concentration and death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, in 1945. Across the UK – and world – people will come together to remember the horrors of the past.

In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘Ordinary People’.

On Holocaust Memorial Day we also remember and pay tribute to all of those persecuted by the Nazis, including Roma and Sinti people, disabled people, gay men, political opponents to the Nazis and others. We also remember all of those affected by genocide since, in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

After signing the Book of Commitment, Owen Thompson MP commented:

“Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for people from Midlothian to reflect on the darkest times of European history. Today, I pledge to remember the six million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered in Holocaust.”

Karen Pollock CBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:

“On Holocaust Memorial Day we remember the 6 million men, women and children who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators, simply for being Jewish, and we pay tribute to the incredible survivors, many of whom still share their testimony day in and day out to ensure that future generations never forget the horrors of the past. We also remember that antisemitism did not start or end with the Holocaust, we must all be vigilant, and speak out whenever it is found.”

Whitecraig Super Bowl party gets the go ahead

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NFL fans enjoy watching a previous game at the Mercat Grill, Whitecraig.


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A Super Bowl party which will be held into the early hours of the morning has been given the go ahead after a licensing board chief admitted he is a big fan of the sport.

The Mercat Grill, in Whitecraig, applied to extend its drinks licence until 4am on the day of the annual American sports event so fans could watch live in the pub.

Police Scotland objected saying the Super Bowl was not a ‘special event’ and therefore did not qualify for an exception to the normal drinking hours.

At a meeting of East Lothian Licensing Board on Thursday morning however, councillors rejected a plea from police to ban the party.

Councillor Lachlan Bruce, board convenor, told the meeting: “I am a die-hard fan of American Football and the Super Bowl is a special event.”

Graham Blaikie, who runs the Mercat Grill, told the board he has run Super Bowl parties in the past, including one last year which was granted an extension by the board, without any incident.

This year he asked the board to extend the number of guests allowed from 40 to 50 maximum but said that would be the biggest number which would ever attend.

He told the board his customers were “tickled pink” to be able to watch the Super Bowl live locally instead of having to travel into Edinburgh where some pubs have permission to show it live.

He said: “We believe the Super Bowl is a special event of local and national significance.

“We have a number of patrons who regularly watch American football in the pub and this is also a chance to thank them for supporting us through the challenging times.”

The Super Bowl is second only to the UEFA Champions League final as the the world’s most-watched single sporting events, while its half-time show has seen iconic performances from The Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder among others.

Super Bowl Sunday sees fans worldwide marking the event with parties.

In a letter to the board Chief Superintendent Catriona Paton said the position of Police Scotland was that it was not an event of great enough significance to warrant a change in licensing hours.

She said: “The applicant has indicated that the extended hours requested are required to facilitate the televised viewing of the American football Super Bowl Final 2023.

“It is the position of Police Scotland that this event does not fulfil the criteria of being a special event or occasion to be catered for on the premises, or a special event of local or national significance.”

The board was told the extension to the licence to allow the pub to remain open until 4am with alcohol sold up to 3am, on Monday, February 13, would be for a ticket only event hosted by Mr Blaikie which included a meal and commemorative t-shirt for those who take part.

The board unanimously approved the extension with Councillor George McGuire telling colleagues: “This supports an East Lothian business which promotes American Football which, I think, is bigger than we realise.”