Government support for the press shuns ‘vital’ local independent news publishers

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Today the government has launched a public health campaign that will not reach you. It won’t reach you because the government has not included independently owned community news publishers like the Bedford Independent in its campaign.

The All in, All together campaign is a welcome response from the government to provide essential information at this time. It is also a demonstration of the government’s support for the press.

However, unless you pick up a copy of a national newspaper, you will not have heard about it.

The Bedford Independent is a member of the Independent Community News Network (ICNN), which is the official trade body for independent community news publishers.

Together, we reach over 5m people online each month, and over half a million in print. This makes us part of the fourth largest news publishing organisation in the UK.

Organisations like ours are the true frontline key workers in this industry who are keeping our communities afloat with genuine, accurate and important information during this pandemic.

Sadly, we are also the ones most at risk from the current crisis.

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The impact of COVID-19 on organisations like ours could have a catastrophic impact on public health across the UK.

Yet the Government has seen fit to exclude us from its public health campaign. And that means they have excluded you too.

It is critical for public health that organisations like ours continue to give essential, verified and useful information to the communities we serve.

Any public health campaign that does not include publications like ours is insufficient and is a dereliction of the government’s duty to communities at this time.

This is why we are calling on your support to demand urgent action from the Government to support organisations like ours at this time and give us an equal share of its public health advertising spend.

We need this so that we can continue to bring you the valued and trusted news you have come to expect from us and rely on.

Mohammad Yasin, MP for Bedford and Kempston said, “Excellent journalism is about uncovering information, to dig for truth, to highlight what would otherwise remain unseen.

“Regional, independent journalists are plugged into their communities and to the stories that matter in a way that simply can’t happen from behind a national newsroom desk, miles away from the action.

“Quality, community news is in peril and as shown by the recent demise of the Bedfordshire Times and Citizen, it’s more important than ever that the scarce local news platforms that remain, like the Bedford Independent, are cherished and supported for the vital role they play in our community and to democracy.”

Richard Fuller MP speaking in Parliament
Richard Fuller MP speaking in Parliament.

Richard Fuller, MP for North East Bedfordshire has also joined calls for greater support for independent local media outlets.

Richard said, “There was already a significant local ‘democratic deficit’ with the decline and closure of local newspapers which, certainly in Bedfordshire, had a great record in holding local councils, mayors and MPs to account as well as highlighting other issues of concern in local services and businesses.

“The current medical crisis has brought into even sharper focus the importance of local media outlets, including online publications such as the Bedford Independent… which can be relied upon to provide useful local reporting.

“I am joining calls for local councils and government departments to channel more of their public notices through these outlets so that local people can access important messages more easily and quickly.”

Please share this article with family and friends and on social media using the hashtag: #saveindependentnews.

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Now more than ever, we need your help to fund the Bedford Independent’s quality journalism that serves our community...

We choose to champion editorial independence, meaning we report the facts without bias and can stand up to those in power when we believe it’s needed.

We can give a voice to people in our community whose voices may otherwise not be heard. And we don’t have a paywall, so everyone can read the stories we publish for free.

But in this time of crisis, many news organisations all over the world are facing existential threat, with advertising revenues plummeting. We’re no different.

We work hard every day to bring you news, commentary, entertainment and announcements from across Bedford. We hope that, with your help, we’ll be able to continue this for many years to come.

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