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London weekly newspaper editor calls for public funding of the local press

By Hamish Mackay

November 7, 2011 | 2 min read

The editor of an independently-owned London weekly newspaper in North London has called for public funding of the local press through a ‘media bank.’

Eric Gordon, who started the Camden New Journal in 1982 with a £50,000 government-backed loan, called for intervention to help the industry at a House of Lords committee looking into the future of journalism, reports media website HoldTheFrontPage.

It quotes Gordon as telling the communications select committee: “There should be some sort of government assistance, preferably, in one form or another, a media bank to help newspapers.

“I know this might be an unpopular viewpoint and I don’t believe in government ownership. But there should be some sort of government intervention. Without it, I do fear for the future of local papers.”

Gordon also claimed that too many local newspaper titles were in the hands of a small number of publishing groups.

“When you get the intrusion of distant, monopolistic companies, you lose a local touch,” he told the committee.

He said the rival Hampstead and Highgate Express, now owned by Archant, had declined from a circulation of 21,000 when the New Journal was launched in 1982 to around 5000 now.

“That’s because of the nature of its ownership and the difficulty of selling a local paper when you have the emergence of good-quality – I’m bound to say it of our paper – free papers,” he added.

Gordon was giving evidence alongside Martin Trepte, from the Maidenhead Advertiser, which is run by a charitable trust.

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