The Scottish Conservatives have launched a newspaper recovery plan to support the long term future of the industry.
The recovery plan will support local journalism and local newspapers through additional funding streams, support national media with additional Scottish Government advertising spend, rates relief and a journalism foundation.
Shadow Finance Secretary Donald Cameron said: “Warm words are not enough. We need a plan which secures the future of our local newspapers."
“A thriving local media is crucial for a well-functioning democracy as people need a reliable source of news for many reasons, not least so that they can hold to account their political representatives."
“This is just as important at a local level as at a national level. Here in the Highlands and Islands, our concerns are often far removed from those of the Central Belt and we need local newspapers so that local issues get the coverage they deserve.”
The plan, which was launched today, has been drafted in collaboration with the National Union of Journalists and follows previous interventions from the Scottish Conservatives to support the sector.
In April, Donald Cameron launched a short term local newspaper appeal seeking increased financial assistance for the industry after lockdown caused serious damage to circulation figures.
And just last month, Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative shadow constitution secretary managed to secure the same financial support for local newspapers as the retail, leisure and hospitality industries.
The Scottish Conservatives' plan will:
- Establish a Journalism Foundation - to invest in local journalism, innovative media projects, new start-ups and vital areas of quality and investigative journalism which are no longer supported elsewhere.
- Confer “asset of community value” status on local newspapers, ensuring that titles facing closure, or potential sale to owners who fund little local content, could be preserved for potential community ownership.
- Offer rates relief and other financial support for journalistic co-operatives and local social enterprises taking over titles from major commercial operators, and running them as not-for-profit enterprises.
- Ensure that government and agency advertising is strategically invested in innovative journalism and local and hyperlocal news initiatives, as well as in mainstream media.