City Matters has been highlighted as a major local success story by the London Assembly in a report on the state of journalism in the Capital.
The report, The fate of local news – read all about it, outlines the challenges facing local newspapers, but concludes that without their presence London could suffer a ‘democratic deficit’.
Local press plays a crucial role in reporting local events, scrutinising public bodies and holding them to account.
Editor Tom Oxtoby said: “Since launching in September we’ve strived to make our mark and have an impact on our patch; it’s heartening to see that hard work being recognised by outside bodies.”
The report states that even though there has been a 90% rise in the number of local news publications both online and in print in the past decade, readerships of newspapers are in decline – but not so with City Matters.
Fiona Twycross AM, who authored the report, said that urgent action is now needed to support local news outlets following in our footsteps.
“Having an active local news force is essential to ensure we are able to hold to account government, local councils and other organisations that have huge responsibilities to Londoners,” she said.
“Local news must be protected. As local news publications look to the future, it is essential that we don’t leave those who are digitally excluded behind.
“Urgent action is needed to support local news and the Mayor of London can show real leadership in standing up for local news at this critical time.”
The London Assembly’s economy committee says that support from City Hall is paramount to turning the tide, which has seen budgets slashed and coverage scaled back by many titles. It called for collaboration with organisations such as the National Union of Journalists to fund bursaries for reporters to tackle the lack of diversity in local news.
It was also suggested that Transport for London trial offering local newspapers on specific bus routes to ensure that groups who are digitally and news-excluded have access to community news.
“Hyperlocals play an important role in their community and City Matters wholly supports any initiative that can fan the flames of journalism at a local level,” added Tom.
Search ‘Stop Press’ on london.gov.uk to read the report in full.