UK Politics

MP Louise Mensch calls for local newspapers subsidy

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Media captionThe Tory MP calls for a newspaper subsidy, ahead of a debate in Westminster Hall on the future of regional titles

With many daily local newspapers turning into weeklies, Louise Mensch MP climbs on the Daily Politics soapbox to argue for state subsidies.

Local papers are at the heart of their community.

In another week where the national press has been dominating the headlines at Leveson, what's the most popular print medium in the UK?

More than 33 million people a month read their local paper. That's more than 70% of the UK's entire adult population.

The internet is no substitute for good local reporting. I love social media, but the best local stories can't be summed up in a tweet.

And as for an iPad app, that excludes two groups of people - the elderly and those on low incomes.

The biggest winners from the decline of a daily local press are going to be politicians.

Who else is going to hold your local MP or your local councillors to account? A vibrant local press is vital for the future of our democracy.

If the pure profit motive doesn't work for local newspapers, the government needs to look at alternative ways of making it work.

Irreplaceable role

Just like football is looking at community supporters' trusts, the same model of community ownership is one that could be viable for local newspapers.

When we consider how many things receive national subsidies that only have a minority appeal, surely local newspapers, at the heart of their towns and villages, deserve some of that government support as well.

Local papers are not only loved by people in their local communities, they are the only vehicle that holds local politicians to account and they have an irreplaceable role in our local democracy.

They can't be replaced by the internet and we have to look at community ownership as a model going forward and ask ourselves if some government subsidies shouldn't be targeted towards something that people really use, enjoy and need on a daily basis.

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