Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has called on the Scottish Government to use its newspaper advertising budget to support new models of journalism and revive local reporting.
A Scottish Labour amendment to a debate motion on COVID-19 Response and the Role of Local Newspapers has called on the Scottish Government to “ensure that its advertising budget spend is invested in a way that supports innovative journalism and regional and local news”.
Jackie Baillie has repeatedly called for more support to be given to local media outlets like the Lennox Herald, the Helensburgh Advertiser, Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter and the Clydebank Post, particularly in relation to the support that the sector can and should receive following the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“A free press is vital to democracy and a thriving newspaper sector is a key part of this.
“Our local press is among the most trusted news and information sources that we have, and we must look to support it in continuing to deliver for our communities – not undermine it by removing relief at this critical point.
“During this pandemic the role of our press has become even more important, as people have sought accurate and timely local information that is relevant to their community. The regional basis for restrictions meant for many people their local press was the obvious place to turn to, to find up to date advice and information, whether online or in print.
“I fully support the continuation of business rates relief for newspapers. The argument over this took place last year, and it was won when the Scottish Government agreed to provide the relief in the same way as it had to other sectors. It now needs to extend it as it has for the other sectors.
“The Labour amendment for this debate seeks to highlight the important of regional and local news, and of innovative journalism, and the benefits of supporting it, including through the investment of the Scottish Government’s advertising budget.”