Mitchinson Calls For Prompt Action To Protect Trusted Local Media

Prompt action must be taken following the publication of the Cairncross Report to protect highly trusted local news brands which “simply cannot compete” with the tech giants who invest nothing in the communities served by local media, Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson has said.  

Speaking in Westminster to the Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire All-Party Parliamentary Group, Mr Mitchinson used JICREG figures to highlight the enormous reach of The Yorkshire Post in print and online, and the title’s contribution to the local community, including an investment of around £6 million in journalism in the county. 

He said: “Despite all of the – at times – debilitating headwinds coming from those digital juggernauts with which we simply cannot compete (you all know who they are and they certainly don’t put over £6 million into the pockets of people living in and around Yorkshire) we remain as relevant and important to the families who live in the communities we serve as we have ever been. And I believe that relevance is down to the fact that people trust what we do.”

He added: “I was pleased Dame Frances Cairncross underscored how important local and regional newspapers are in helping to connect people together and bind communities to give them a sense of informed identity and purpose. But if we’re not careful, we’re going to lose them and quicker than you might imagine if we don’t solve the current conundrum quickly.”

Mr Mitchinson said his titles’ JICREG-audited print audience was around three quarters of a million people per week, with half a million unique users per day online.  

He added: “The level of investment in journalism, in content, in campaigns, in investigations, in specialist talent – like our cartoonist, for example – is north of £6 million, employing 140 journalists right across Yorkshire and indeed two in the city of London covering Westminster affairs and City trading.

“We will remain true to the DNA of The Yorkshire Post and remain faithful to the journalistic oath. To do anything less risks us becoming part of the omnipresent white noise of fakery and spin that is luring society towards division and hatred. An uninformed place where people are isolated from one another, disconnected from their communities and from society and – crucially – set against the establishment.”

Recounting a conversation he had had with Lynette Huntley, chief of staff for Channel 4, Mr Mitchinson said: “We both agreed that even if the current business model underpinning journalism built on trust: built on doing the right thing for the right reasons – using skill and compassion in equal measure – is challenged, our faith in quality will prevail. Trust is sacrosanct – more so now than ever before – and one way or another that which the likes of The Yorkshire Post and Channel 4 News do must be protected, cherished, preserved and enhanced.”

Ms Huntley had recently been to Silicon Valley, Mr Mitchinson said, to meet the tech companies. He added: “She proffered to the technologists that some of that which they have created could be – in the wrong hands – dangerous. Their response: we are merely the arms dealers. What people do with those arms is up to them. We cannot take responsibility for other people’s actions.

“Ladies and gentlemen, if they won’t step up and take responsibility for the content people are able to consume, then we must.”