MSPs call on government to support journalism through pandemic

Highlands and Islands MSPs Rhoda Grant and David Stewart have asked the Scottish government to step in to ensure the survival of local media through the coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Grant called for funding support from the Scottish government to be made available to the journalism sector, or for current existing support to be extended.

Meanwhile, fellow Labour politician Mr Stewart said he would continue to highlight the “vital role that local newspapers play in our communities”.

Mrs Grant has contacted finance secretary Kate Forbes and culture secretary Fiona Hyslop asking if further funding could be made available for the sector.

However, the Labour politician also welcomed action that had been taken so far by the government, including in advertising.

Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston urged people across his Highlands and Islands region to keep supporting journalism back in March.

“The vital role played by our local press has rarely been more important as it is now,” he said.

“The Covid-19 emergency has placed a premium on accurate local information and our local news media, whether that’s print, online or radio, is proving absolutely indispensable.

MP Alistair Carmichael also said last week the isles were “fortunate” to “benefit from a range of local media outlets”.

“These do an essential job in informing the public and in holding those in power to account,” he said.

“The importance of their role has rarely been more evident than right now and yet they are facing a significant threat to their survival.

“A large proportion of news revenue comes from local business advertising. That advertising has almost disappeared overnight, and yet the press cannot simply shut up shop during the crisis, for both practical and moral reasons.

“It is noticeable that the governments in Edinburgh and London are spending a lot of money in national newspapers and on broadcast media.

“Local media outlets are generally more trusted as news carriers so it would make sense to concentrate more spending with them.”


Add Your Comment
  • Christopher Johnston

    • April 19th, 2020 18:32

    Support will be available to journalists who support the SNP alone in their work.


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