People Before Profit Councillor, journalist and activist Eamonn McCann speaks about the value of local journalism and threat to its future in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
He says: "Journalists have played a vital role in recent weeks providing the public with factual information needed now more than ever.
"It is a sad irony that the threat to jobs in journalism is higher now than ever.
"The steep fall in demand for products of all sorts has seen advertising revenue plummet. Widespread lay-offs are threatened.
"This comes on top of a series of blows in the past few years. The NUJ has fought hard to protect members. But against a bleak economic background, it hasn’t been possible to prevent redundancies.
"The hammer-blow of the coronavirus pandemic has now put a question mark against the very future of a number of titles in Derry and Donegal, as well as across the rest of island. Journalists fear further loss of valued colleagues.
"Journalism differs from many other industries in that workers tend to have a close relationship with the communities around them as well as with those they work alongside.
"Many people can be sharply critical of the local media, but at the same time value what they do. A community which loses a local ‘paper will be poorer as a result.
"Some of our local 'papers are strong and will survive. But others are at real risk.
"It is for these reasons that the wider public, not just those who work in the media, should support journalists in striving to keep titles alive and save jobs in journalism for the next generation.
"Journalists are no more entitled to their jobs than anyone else. But we do play a vital role, which has been highlighted as never before over the course of the coronavirus disaster.
"The NUJ is in talks with government in both Dublin and London about the need for support to see newspapers survive. It is reasonable to ask citizens in general, and their political and other representatives, to voice their support for the union as it tries to save valuable jobs and the valuable role which NUJ members play."
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