Lopez: Newspapers Play ‘Invaluable Role In Fabric Of Our Society’
Newspapers play an “invaluable role in the fabric of our society” which is vital to helping ensure a healthy democracy both nationally and at a local level, DCMS Minister Julia Lopez has said this week.
Responding to Parliamentary questions from Stephen Morgan, Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Ms Lopez also said that the government was “mindful” of the potential impact that any changes to the public notices regime might have on transparency and local democracy.
Ms Lopez said: “The government recognises the importance of local newspapers to communities and the continued need to reach out to people who cannot, or prefer not to, digitally access information.
“The government is also mindful of the potential impact that any changes to the existing publicity requirements for statutory notices, including planning notices, might have on transparency and local democracy, as well as the potential effect on the sustainability of the local newspaper industry.”
In October, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Minister Kemi Badenoch MP said the government currently has no plans to change the statutory duty on local authorities to advertise public notices in local papers.
In a separate question, Mr Morgan asked about the implications for Government policies of Plum Consulting research which found a positive correlation between local newspaper circulation and turnout in local elections.
Ms Lopez responded: “Newspapers play an invaluable role in the fabric of our society. They remain uniquely placed to undertake the investigative journalism and scrutiny of public institutions, including local councils and our courts, that is vital to helping ensure a healthy democracy both nationally and at a local level.
“The government commissioned Plum Consulting’s research to better understand the link between newspapers and democratic engagement, alongside wider sector trends, in doing so supporting policy development to ensure the sustainability of the sector.
“The findings of the research confirm the importance of a free press to our democracy, drawing a direct correlation between local newspaper provision and electoral turnout. It also provided a snapshot of which areas have strong or poor coverage from local newspapers.”