NUJ Local News Matters Week

    The NUJ kicks off a week of action today by welcoming the support from Ireland for the union's local news matters campaign.

    At the February meeting of Comeragh municipal district council, in the south east of Ireland, the cathaoirleach and councillor John O’Leary, said: "I think it is important the local media report on local government and inform citizens about the work undertaken on their behalf by elected representatives, local authorities and agencies".

    "The local media also reflect, without any shadow of a doubt, particularly at this level at our Comeragh district meetings, the concerns of citizens and provide a platform for civic participation in dialogue on all aspects of community life."

    "I think it is important that media organisations should provide journalists with the level of resources necessary to ensure accurate and comprehensive coverage of all local democracy"

    At the meeting, councillor O’Leary suggested that Comeragh council should send a motion to Waterford city and county council to gain further support for the NUJ campaign. 

    Councillor Michael J. O’Ryan also supported the call and said the union's campaign would be "a week of action that will champion news as an essential component of society, democracy and citizenship.

    "I think in this age we live in, it is very important that they are allowed to do their work, with freedom of speech and all those things pertained for any functional democracy.

    "I think the councils, councillors and local media work well together. It is the highlight of some people’s week – the Wednesday in the west of the county, when the newspapers come out. I think the communities of Comeragh are all the better as a result of our local media."

    The motion for Comeragh council to support the NUJ campaign was proposed by councillor Liam Brazil.

    Councillor Liam Brazil said the local media "are fantastic in the work they do". He added: "I support anything we can do to support the local media and I thank them for coming to our meetings, because if they weren’t coming, no-one would know what we are doing here."

    The motion was then raised at the Waterford city and county council meeting on Thursday 9 March 2017. Waterford council unanimously passed the motion put forward by all the members of Comeragh council expressing support for the NUJ local news matters campaign.

    Councillor O’Leary, proposed the motion and said: "Journalists engaged by media organisations: print, broadcasting and online, face many challenges, including increased workloads, reduced resources, and lower staffing levels."

    The motion urged media organisations to provide journalists with necessary resources to ensure there is accurate and comprehensive coverage of local democracy in Ireland. The council also reaffirmed its commitment to make information available to the local media and provide the appropriate facilities for journalists attending council meetings.

    Seamus Dooley, NUJ acting general secretary, said: "This is a great way to launch our campaign, thanks to our local activists who helped to secure this fantastic support. This is just the start of a range of activities and events organised over the next seven days and we hope to receive many more pledges of support for our campaign."

    Today, Friday 24 March, there will be a NUJ local news matters event at lunchtime in Sunderland, in the north east of England. Bestselling novelist Philippa Gregory will be part of a panel discussing the importance of local journalism. She will be join the chair of the NUJ parliamentary group Helen Goodman MP, award-winning Northern Echo columnist Mike Amos, and a team from Sunderland university's media and cultural studies department. All welcome.

    There will a NUJ local news matters event in Bristol tonight, in the south west of England. Mike Norton, editor of the Bristol Post, will be on the panel, along with staff from the BBC, ITV and Made in Bristol. Martin Booth, editor of Bristol 24/7, Rich Coulter, co-founder of the Local Voice Network, Steve Jackley of the St Paul’s magazine Vocalise, the Bristol Cable and local MPs Charlotte Leslie and Thangam Debonaire will be the speakers tonight. All welcome.

    The NUJ has also linked up with the TUC to launch a public pledge calling for investment in quality local journalism and sustainable business models. You can sign up and support the pledge here.

    There are more events and activity planned across the UK and Ireland in the next seven days including a debate in the UK parliament on Thursday 30 March. For more information about the local news matters campaign, visit the NUJ website.