[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”97% of editors of local news worry that the powerful are no longer being held to account ” google_fonts=”font_family:Libre%20Baskerville%3Aregular%2Citalic%2C700|font_style:400%20italic%3A400%3Aitalic”][vc_column_text]
Ninety seven per cent of senior journalists and editors working for the UK’s regional newspapers and news sites say they worry that that local newspapers do not have the resources to hold power to account in the way that they did in the past, according to a survey carried out by the Society of Editors and Index on Censorship. And 70% of those respondents surveyed for a special report published in Index on Censorship magazine are worried a lot about this.
The survey, carried out in February 2019 for the spring issue of Index on Censorship magazine, asked for responses from senior journalists and current and former editors working in regional journalism. It was part of work carried out for this magazine to discover the biggest challenges ahead for local journalists and the concerns about declining local journalism has on holding the powerful to account.
The survey found that 50% of editors and journalists are most worried that no one will be doing the difficult stories in future, and 43% that the public’s right to know will disappear. A small number worry most that there will be too much emphasis on light, funny stories.
There are some specific issues that editors worry about, such as covering court cases and council meetings with limited resources.
Twenty editors surveyed say that they feel only half as much local news is getting covered in their area compared with a decade ago, with 15 respondents saying that about 10% less news is getting covered. And 74% say their news outlet covers court cases once a week, and 18% say they hardly ever cover courts.
The special report also includes a YouGov poll commissioned for Index on public attitudes to local journalism. Forty per cent of British adults over the age of 65 think that the public know less about what is happening in areas where local newspapers have closed, according to the poll.
Meanwhile, 26% of over-65s say that local politicians have too much power where local newspapers have closed, compared with only 16% of 18 to 24-year-olds. This is according to YouGov data drawn from a representative sample of 1,840 British adults polled on 21-22 February 2019.
[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_icon icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-quote-left” color=”custom” size=”xl” align=”right” custom_color=”#dd3333″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_custom_heading text=”The demise of local reporting undermines all journalism, creating black holes at the moment when understanding the “backcountry” is crucial” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Libre%20Baskerville%3Aregular%2Citalic%2C700|font_style:400%20italic%3A400%3Aitalic”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]The Index magazine special report charts the reduction in local news reporting around the world, looking at China, Argentina, Spain, the USA, the UK among other countries.
Index on Censorship editor Rachael Jolley said: “Big ideas are needed. Democracy loses if local news disappears. Sadly, those long-held checks and balances are fracturing, and there are few replacements on the horizon. Proper journalism cannot be replaced by people tweeting their opinions and the occasional photo of a squirrel, no matter how amusing the squirrel might be.”
She added: “If no local reporters are left living and working in these communities, are they really going to care about those places? News will go unreported; stories will not be told; people will not know what has happened in their towns and communities.”
Others interviewed for the magazine on local news included:
Michael Sassi, editor of the Nottingham Post and the Nottingham Live website, who said: “There’s no doubt that local decision-makers aren’t subject to the level of scrutiny they once were.”
Lord Judge, former lord chief justice for England and Wales, said: “As the number of newspapers declines and fewer journalists attend court, particularly in courts outside London and the major cities, and except in high profile cases, the necessary public scrutiny of the judicial process will be steadily eroded,eventually to virtual extinction.”
US historian and author Tim Snyder said: “The policy thing is that government – whether it is the EU or the United States or individual states – has to create the conditions where local media can flourish.”
“A less informed society where news is replaced by public relations, reactive commentary and agenda management by corporations and governments will become dangerously volatile and open to manipulation by special interests. Allan Prosser, editor of the Irish Examiner.
“The demise of local reporting undermines all journalism, creating black holes at the moment when understanding the “backcountry” is crucial. Belgian journalist Jean Paul Marthoz.
The special report “Is this all the local news? What happens if local journalism no longer holds power to account?” is part of the spring issue of Index on Censorship magazine.
Note to editors: Index on Censorship is a quarterly magazine, which was first published in 1972. It has correspondents all over the world and covers freedom of expression issues and censored writing
Rachael Jolley is editor of Index on Censorship. She tweets @londoninsider. This article is part of the latest edition of Index on Censorship magazine, with its special report on Is this all the Local News?
Index on Censorship’s spring 2019 issue asks Is this all the local news? What happens if local journalism no longer holds power to account? We explore the repercussions in the issue.
Look out for the new edition in bookshops, and don’t miss our Index on Censorship podcast, with special guests, on iTunes and Soundcloud.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Is this all the Local News?” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.indexoncensorship.org%2F2018%2F12%2Fbirth-marriage-death%2F|||”][vc_column_text]The spring 2019 issue of Index on Censorship magazine explores what happens to democracy without local journalism, and how it can survive in the future.
With: Richard Littlejohn, Libby Purves and Tim Snyder[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_single_image image=”105481″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” link=”https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2018/12/birth-marriage-death/”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Subscribe” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]In print, online. In your mailbox, on your iPad.
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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”The number of people listening to radio stations is on the rise, and with the arrival of podcasting this old form of media is having a rebirth, argues Rachael Jolley”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]
A LONG TIME ago my friend Tom told me that for many people there were only two states of mind:talking, and waiting to talk. In effect as his simple description suggests, no one was listening to what anyone else had to say.
This was way before social media got to the state it is in today. In 2017 we have all become transmitters, broadcasting our micro thoughts and reactions almost incessantly. Sometimes I worry that people spend so much of their time on Twitter that they can’t have time to fit in basics like eating, cooking, sleeping, and doing a job.
Listen to a radio show, and you might be provoked, informed or excited about a new subject. But in listening you are doing something that is a little out of fashion, contemplating what others are saying, not writing down some angry instant response, or even just posting the first thought that comes into your head. Surprisingly radio is on the rise again (Americans listened to 11.5 billion hours of news across Nielsen’s portable people meter markets in 2016, up from 10.5 billion in 2015), its audience is growing across various age groups, and part of the reason might be because we are all tired of transmitting constantly. Instead we appear to be happier to settle down and listen to radio and, particularly its news programmes, again.
In the summer of 2017, around 48.2 million people in Britain listened to the radio at least once a week, up 0.9% from 2016. And in 2017 across the Atlantic, the USA is seeing a surge in listeners for news and talk radio. Of particular interest is the steady growth in those who listen to the radio for news in the 18-35 age group. Radio was thought to be going out of fashion as new technologies elbowed it out of the way, but instead it’s back and gathering new audiences. Part of the reason might be growing awareness that someone’s ramblings are not necessarily a reliable source of information.
Meanwhile, according to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University, figures show that in most countries the proportion of the public using social media as a source for news has stagnated. In Portugal, Italy and Australia it has declined.
So why is radio so important? It has a particular strength over other forms of media and communication. You might only need a battery to give it life. And you can listen to radio anywhere without wifi, without a plug point, without being able to read, and without much fuss. That makes radio an essential for anyone living in a remote location, who hasn’t got access to newspapers or internet. It can bring the news and information about what is happening in the world to you, and if you live in a country where you don’t want people to track you, then a battery-operated radio is the way to go.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_icon icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-quote-left” color=”custom” align=”right” custom_color=”#dd3333″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_custom_heading text=”Digital technologies have given radio a new lease of life.” google_fonts=”font_family:Libre%20Baskerville%3Aregular%2Citalic%2C700|font_style:400%20italic%3A400%3Aitalic”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
In remote regions of Africa and India, where few other options are available, radio is massively important as a means of finding out what is going on locally, and internationally.
Radio is an old technology. It is the wrinkly old guy against the bouncing baby that is Twitter. The first voice broadcast was in 1900, and it’s come a long way since then.
After television came along, some thought it was the end for radio. But it wasn’t. Then along came the internet, and again some thought it was the last long days of summer for radio. But in fact digital technologies have given radio a new lease of life. Podcasting has kicked a whole new audience radio-wards, while retaining some of its old audience. Podcasts are portable, of course, and can be listened to on the way to work.
According to data from US-based Edison Research, audiences for podcasts in Australia and the United States are seeing steady growth. In Australia, among those who listen to podcasts, 30% listen to more than five hours a week, either at home or in their cars.
Not only have podcasts given us a new form of radio, but they have opened up new opportunities for people who want to make their own programmes. Anyone can now be the equivalent of a radio reporter by making their own podcast at very little cost. With some basic skills and nothing more than a smart phone, you can record interviews, and add an introduction. You can even cut them together on a phone app, or a free internet programme, before publishing your programme on a platform like Soundcloud.
Podcasting has given investigative reporting a boost too, as those who listened to the award-winning Serial will recognise. Meticulous and detailed research went into the journalism for the first series of Serial, which reinvestigated a murder in Baltimore. Millions of people tuned in around the world to find out what each episode would unveil. But unlike the old days of radio, listeners didn’t always have to listen at the same time every week, or sit around an old set in the corner of their living room. The podcast could be downloaded to phones, or iPads for a long journey, or even just live streamed.
While journalists are using radio to bring information to hard to reach places, the bad news, which we report in this issue, is that others are trying to stop them.
In India, the government still tightly controls news radio, so only the state can broadcast, despite having hinted over the past few years that things might change. This is a country where radio is vital for millions of people. The Indian government should be rethinking its approach to radio as innovative radio pioneer Shu Choudray argues (p17).
In Somalia, radio journalist Marwan Mayow Hussein checks under his car for bombs before going off to work. The work he does is dangerous, and certain people would rather he didn’t broadcast, as Ismail Einashe reports in this magazine (p8). Meanwhile in Iraq, the team at Alghad FM in Mosul don’t make their names public in order to stay a little safer as they continue to work in a war zone. Laura Silvia Battaglia went there to meet them (p41).
In Rwanda, radio is vital, Peter Kettler who ran an NGO called Coffee Lifeline there, told Index: “Radio is far more powerful than messages on mobile phones. In Rwanda you are dealing with a heavily illiterate population, but everyone has a radio or access to a shared radio.” During the period of genocide radio was used to incite violence. Graham Holliday investigates the role of radio in Rwanda today (p51), and finds it faces censorship and banning orders. The BBC World Service in English and Kinyarwanda have been banned by the president, and journalists are fleeing the country.
The new rise of radio allows more opportunities to discuss and debate than ever before, but we must also fight for radio stations to be unbound from state control and to be able to broadcast news freely.
Liam Hodkinson and Elizabeth Stitt compile comprehensive facts on radio usage throughout the world.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”90954″ img_size=”213×300″ alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=”http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03064229408535741″][vc_custom_heading text=”Death by radio” font_container=”tag:p|font_size:24|text_align:left” link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fjournals.sagepub.com%2Fdoi%2Fpdf%2F10.1080%2F03064229408535741|||”][vc_column_text]September 1994
If Rwandan genocide comes to trial, owners of Radio des Milk Collines should be head of the accused.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”89165″ img_size=”213×300″ alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=”http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0306422010372565″][vc_custom_heading text=”Going local” font_container=”tag:p|font_size:24|text_align:left” link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fjournals.sagepub.com%2Fdoi%2Fpdf%2F10.1177%2F0306422010372565|||”][vc_column_text]June 2010
Jo Glanville explains how radio has the most impact on the local level than any other media platform.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Free to air” font_container=”tag:p|font_size:24|text_align:left” link=”url:%20https%3A%2F%2Fwww.indexoncensorship.org%2F2017%2F09%2Ffree-to-air%2F|||”][vc_column_text]Through a range of in-depth reporting, interviews and illustrations, the autumn 2017 issue of Index on Censorship magazine explores how radio has been reborn and is innovating ways to deliver news in war zones, developing countries and online
With: Ismail Einashe, Peter Bazalgette, Wana Udobang[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”95458″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=”https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2017/09/free-to-air/”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Subscribe” font_container=”tag:p|font_size:24|text_align:left” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.indexoncensorship.org%2Fsubscribe%2F|||”][vc_column_text]In print, online. In your mailbox, on your iPad.
Subscription options from £18 or just £1.49 in the App Store for a digital issue.
Every subscriber helps support Index on Censorship’s projects around the world.
Independent student newspapers struggle in an increasingly digital world. Advertising revenue is shrinking. Budding journalists must learn how to fill the gap while maintaining news coverage free of administration censorship.
Of the more than 500 student newspapers in the US, Index spoke with two papers about their work and how they finance themselves independently.
“We really value our independent status because it allows us to be critical of the administration and be a watchdog of our university,” Kyle Plantz, editor-in-chief at Boston University’s Daily Free Press, said in an email interview.
The paper formed in 1970 after the university’s then president John Silber cut funding to two campus publications to prevent coverage of Kent State protests. As a result they merged to become the Free Press.
In recent years, Daily Free Press staff has written articles covering topics on campus such as gender neutral housing and students’ issues with the Student Activities Office, which oversees student organisations. In late 2011-2012, the paper provided extensive coverage of the arrest of two ice hockey players charged with sexual assault.
Nicole Brown, editor-in-chief at New York University’s Washington Square Press, also said her paper acts as a watchdog on the NYU administration.
“We need to be able to question our university and present information to the community,” Brown said. “We also need to be able to voice our opinions without fear of being punished for those opinions.”
Many student papers struggle to maintain steady revenue. Brown said the Washington Square Press relies on advertising, sold and managed by student staff.
“With a move toward more online content, there are more opportunities to sell ad spaces online, as well as in print,” Brown said.
For the Free Press, nearly $70,000 (£44,576.05) debt to their printers recently threatened to shutter their publication. They switched from publishing four days a week to once a week and, on 10 November, launched a crowd-sourcing campaign.
The paper surpassed their goal and raised over $82,000 in just three days, with Daily Free Press alumnus Bill O’Reilly donating $10,000 and local businessman Ernie Boch Jr. donating $50,000.
“[Reducing publication], along with cutting some other costs, we are able to continue to receive ad revenue and sustain our weekly print edition,” Plantz said. “We are assessing how we want to use [the extra funds] and what will be beneficial to our organization in the future.”
Independent newspapers must find a way to financially sustain themselves or campuses will lose reliable, student-run news.
As Plantz said, “We are one of the only outlets that allow students to have a voice, question authority, and be a place for students, faculty, staff, and the administration to come together to learn about what’s happening on campus.”