Crisis in local news deepens as seven London titles close

The National Union of Journalists is calling for an urgent public enquiry as local news-gathering and scrutiny is decimated.

The National Union of Journalists has called on London mayor Sadiq Khan to take action as seven north London newspapers shut this week.

Seven titles in north London owned by the Tindle newspaper group have been axed overnight, the final print-runs of the papers, some centuries-old, going out yesterday, marking yet another step in the decline of local media.

The closures come a week after it emerged Kensington and Chelsea News, the local for Grenfell Tower, was facing the axe after its owner group, Capital Media Newspapers, went into administration.

Closures of local papers have created a “crisis in terms of coverage of news and democratic bodies in the capital”, said Séamus Dooley, the NUJ’s acting general secretary, who added:

“The recent devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, which occurred despite the residents raising concerns about safety, showed just how vital it is for communities to have a watchdog in their local newspaper”

In addition to Kensington and Chelsea News, three other papers in west London currently face closure: the Fulham Chronicle, Hammersmith Chronicle and Shepherd’s Bush Chronicle.

For the north London papers, there was only a week between closure announcement to the final issues, leading the NUJ to demand greater protection for local newspapers.

The NUJ are calling for an urgent government enquiry into the decline and closures of local newspapers.

In a statement, the journalists’ union says local papers should be classed as “community assets”, and owners should give local communities “the opportunity to buy the titles or find new owners’ before they’re shut down”.

An editorial in The Enfield Advertiser yesterday read: “so economic reality has finally bitten and, after almost 140 years, yesterday we published the last ever editions of The Press”.

“In our absence, it will to some extent be over to you. Never lose sight of the fact that this is your community. Don’t be shy of holding to account the people who have the power to shape your lives”

Twelve years ago, The Enfield Advertiser had a staff of 17. Since then, year-on-year cuts reduced the staff and now the owners said it could not sustain the continuing decline in revenue.

The other north London titles being closed are: The Haringey Advertiser, The Barnet & Potters Bar Free Press, The Hendon Finchley and Edgware Press, The Edgware and Mill Press, the Edmonton Advertiser & Herald, The Winchmore Hill Advertiser and Herald and The East Barnet Press and Advertiser.

Communities will suffer as local papers close. We need action to protect the journalists scrutinising local politics and events.

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