The Welsh Liberal Democrats have warned that swift action is needed from both the UK and Welsh Governments to help save local newspapers, following news that Media Wales has issued redundancy warnings to 70 of their staff.
Media Wales is responsible for publishing the Western Mail, South Wales Echo and WalesOnline. The 70 jobs potentially at risk represent over half of the organisation’s total, with roles set to be cut including their editor-in-chief.
The organisation has announced that they are set to be merged with the English Midlands division to stay functional.
Cllr Rodney Berman, lead Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd candidate for South Wales Central, said:
“This is deeply worrying news that threatens to eliminate the effective scrutiny by the press of decision-making here in Wales. This is something that I believe is vital for an effective democracy and needs to be safeguarded.
“There have been so many cut backs in staff working for publications like the Western Mail and South Wales Echo over recent years already that it’s hard to see how they will even continue to function if a significant number of journalists are now made redundant.
“We understand that all newspapers have lost revenue as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but we surely can’t just stand by and let jobs be lost like this or we’ll have next to no local press left here in Wales. Both the UK and Welsh Government must step in to provide support and prevent a total collapse.”
Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, added:
“Local journalists and publications play a key part in our society. They are crucial in connecting communities, keeping people informed of local events and providing effective scrutiny of politicians.
“Sadly, these cuts threaten to destroy the already very fragile Welsh media industry for good. We need a targeted support package, aimed at supporting these industries during these difficult times.
“We also need to be helping them adapt and diversify their content, particularly expanding their online presence. So much of our media is consumed online, our media organisations need to reflect that.”