Coronavirus: Sheffield City Region mayor calls on Government to help local press survive outbreak

Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis has called on Government to help the local press survive in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 5:55 pm

Many press groups, which include local and regional newspapers, have been heavily hit in the pocket due to collapsing advertising revenues as businesses struggle to survive the lockdown.

The Sheffield City Region mayor has asked Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for Government to run a continued public information campaign around the coronavirus outbreak.

The mayor said the age of 'fake news' there is a 'pressing need' for Government to properly communicate advice to the public in a clear way 'carried by trusted local institutions'.

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Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis. Picture: Chris Etchells

The announcement comes as Newsquest, which runs over a 100 local newspapers across the UK, announced that some staff would be laid off and those that weren’t would have their pay cut by 15 per cent for those earning over £18,000 a year.

In a letter to the minister, Mayor Jarvis said: “As you know, coronavirus is causing unprecedented disruption to businesses in every sector of our economy, including our local newspapers who are facing a collapse in advertising revenue which threatens their future viability.

“A strong, independent local newspaper is a vital asset for any community. It informs the public, holds to account the powerful and helps bind local communities together. It is an essential part of our local democracy and our communities will be much poorer if our local newspapers cannot weather the storm of coronavirus.

“Moreover, in this age of misinformation and ‘fake news’ there is a pressing need for Government to communicate its advice to the public in a clear way, carried by trusted local institutions.

“That is why I am writing to ask if your Department will consider running a public information campaign in our local newspapers – to keep the public informed about the latest guidance while also helping to safeguard the future of our local press.”

In an address to the nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people must now stay in their homes, and could only leave for four reasons which include essential travel to work and shopping for essential items.