IPSO Blog: Supporting local journalism

To celebrate Journalism Matters Week, Communication and Public Affairs Officer Hanno Fenech writes about the importance of local news.

This week, many people, including Her Majesty the Queen, celebrated the vital role of the UK press and local newspapers in particular, during Journalism Matters Week.

IPSO regulates the vast majority of the UK’s regional and local press, covering some 90% of all regional publishers. These publications are an important part of their local communities – yet their sustainability is of continued concern.

Even prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, the digital revolution was altering the economic outlook of the newspaper industry. Recognising this, as part of its response to the Cairncross Review, the government commissioned research on the relationship between local news and democratic participation. The report, published this week, detailed how the decline of local papers has a negative impact on journalism and reduced scrutiny of democratic functions.

The report highlights the important relationship between the local press and democratic participation. For example, the study found that for every percentage point of growth in a local daily newspaper’s circulation, electoral turnout in its area goes up by 0.37 percentage points. Indeed, an additional daily or weekly local newspaper title in an area leads to a 1.27 percentage point increase in voter turnout!

In addition, local newspapers were invaluable during the Coronavirus outbreak as a reliable source of up-to-date, trusted information. Local and regional newspapers played an important role in disseminating public health messaging, including to remote and isolated communities. 

As the independent regulator of most newspapers and magazines, IPSO provides accountability. By committing to IPSO and independent self-regulation, newspapers across the country indicate to their readers that they are committed to the highest standards in journalism and offer recourse to their readers if something goes wrong. 

IPSO takes pride in its role upholding high standards. Through our training and guidance for journalists available across the UK, IPSO ensures that journalists everywhere – whether at the nation’s largest newspapers to its smallest, hyperlocal publications – have access to the tools they needed to produce the quality, accountable journalism, which as we have seen plays a vital role in public health messaging and democratic participation.

Look for the IPSO Mark in your newspaper - a symbol of regulated, accountable news.