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Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Number of local papers halved in a decade

The number of local newspaper journalists has halved in the past decade and this is damaging democracy, according to a report published by the London Assembly.

Although publications in the capital are relatively “resilient”, this is masking the decline in quality, said the report, which was commissioned by the Assembly’s Economy Committee.

Falling readership and advertising revenues are forcing local newspaper publishers to cut resources. This is doubly worrying as the decline comes at the same time as the Government hands more powers to local councils, including plans to give them more control over £25bn a year in business rates revenue.

“We are at risk of losing one of our most important democratic functions [at local level],” said Economy Committee Chair Fiona Twycross. “You start getting quite broad-brush coverage. The investigations into things that might have been going on in council committees and decision-making is something that a lot of newspapers can’t do any more.”

Seven local newspapers closed in London in July, including one in Kensington, scene of the Grenfell Tower fire.