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‘Organic’ local news in decline

30 Awst 2007

The reporting of local news is in decline as regional newspapers increasingly ‘borrow’ national stories, according to research by Cardiff University.

Professor Bob Franklin of the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies has analysed the coverage of every general election since 1987 by 30 different West Yorkshire newspapers.

The results showed that in 1987 nearly three-quarters of election stories reported in the local papers were pieces about regional candidates and campaigns. By 2005 this type of coverage had fallen to barely a third, with the remainder of articles made up of reworked national stories.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Franklin said: "The local press isn't local anymore. Regional papers are covering national stories and giving them a local spin which serves to exacerbate London-centricity nationwide."

Previously national newspapers would draw their regional stories from the local press, but according to Professor Franklin’s research this is becoming an impossible task.

"Because local news is disappearing in favour of national stories with there is very little genuine regional news available to make the nationals", said Professor Franklin. "The situation is made worse because the changing shape of the newsroom. Fewer national newspapers employ regional reporters, and there are less journalists starting their careers with a local newspaper".

Professor Franklin's research has been published in a wide range of scholarly journals and book chapters since his studies of local press reporting of elections began in 1987.