Culture Secretary Cites Importance of Newspapers in Run Up to Election

Sajid Javid has said he recognises the “huge importance” of local press saying that the relationship between politicians and local news media has become “even more important” in the run up to the general election.

Speaking to an audience of local press political editors at a Newspaper Conference lunch chaired by Eastern Daily Press political editor Annabelle Dickson this week, the Culture Secretary said he’d “always had a love affair” with newspapers and said that the government was looking at practical ways to help the industry.

“I recognise the huge importance of local press. That includes not just the reporters that are based locally but also the ones like yourselves doing the job here in Westminster, making sure that news in picked up here, taken back to your local towns, your cities and all the areas that  your paper  represents,” Mr Javid told local press political editors at the lunch.

 “I was brought up in Bristol and I always had a love affair with newspapers for as long as I can remember. I used to go on a long bus journey to school and people used to leave their newspapers on the bus at the back so that’s how I first got into it.

Mr Javid said the relationship between politicians and the press “becomes even more important” close to the election. He said: “Remember the country is not just choosing a Prime Minister we’re choosing MPs that help then determine who that Prime Minister is and by definition every MP represents a locality.” 

He added: “People will want to know their representative’s opinion and you can only get that such local view out from local media, local press.”

The culture secretary spoke at length about the importance of the local press in raising awareness about initiatives such as high speed broadband rollout and cultural events in local areas.

Speaking about the role of government and media policy, Mr Javid said: “When we say that the importance of local press is recognised, it’s unique, it’s important to civil society – what can we do about it at a very practical level to try and make a difference?” 

He cited Eric Pickles’ crackdown on council newspapers as an example and went on to talk about the BBC operating at a local level. He added: “What impact is that having on local press? Is it pushing others out? Can it actually help in some way? A number of those will have to be looked at during the charter review process but I think it’s right to ask those questions and set that out now.”

Asked whether a Labour government would take the same attitude towards issues around press regulation as a Conservative government, Mr Javid said he couldn’t speak for Labour but added: “I think it’s fair to say during the whole process they’ve been a lot more gung ho and interventionist, perhaps you could say trying to get more done.”

“All I can really talk about with confidence is our view and when I say our view I say the Conservatives view and I think that’s very clear. At the moment we’ve reached a settled position and that’s that, and that’s not going to change.”