Labour leader Brendan Howlin and party colleague, local Cork East TD Sean Sherlock have called on the Government and the public to help struggling local newspapers as advertising revenue plummets during the Covid-19 crisis.

Many of the country’s local newspapers, a vital source of trusted news for communities, have struggled as business contracts during the crisis. Some have already faced closure, while several nationally have had to implement staff lay-offs/reduced hours.

Support local

Mallow-based Cork East TD Sean Sherlock, has also appealed to locals to buy newspapers like The Avondhu as they are trusted information hubs.

“It’s vital that in these times of uncertainty that we rally to ensure that our local newspapers like The Avondhu are kept open and the printing presses kept well oiled.

“I would encourage people to keep buying their local papers during this time, safe in the knowledge that they are trusted sources of information for everyone in our community.”

Labour party leader Brendan Howlin has urged the Government to help struggling local newspapers through ad buys and urged the public to support their local and national titles by buying a copy.

Deputy Howlin said: “I welcome the action by the Government to suspend the BAI levy for local radio stations, giving some immediate relief in the face of collapsing advertising revenues. However, assistance and recognition is also needed for local papers during the Covid-19 slowdown. They too are a reliable and trusted source of information for many.

“The Government should look at supports such as extensive advertising in local papers and radio to get the key messages out. This would be an important way to support advertising revenue, sustaining people in jobs, while also providing the public with essential news. Similar supports may also be needed for independent national broadcasters and newspapers if this is an extended crisis.

“I would also call on the public to support their local and national newspapers by buying a copy when they can. We all need to be reading reliable information sources. 

“There are also great community efforts under way to support elderly people and those at risk in self isolation with deliveries to their homes. Adding a copy of your local paper to those supplies is another way to boost their sales. 

“The economic consequences of the coronavirus will impact numerous sectors in our society and when problems are identified we must move quickly to provide support and assistance.”

Circulation to those vulnerable

David McRedmond, CEO of An Post, said that he is working with local papers to find a way to circulate the publications to vulnerable people to keep them informed. 

“We are working actively with the national and local newspapers of Ireland to find a way that we will, by the start of next week, be able to distribute newspapers to people, starting with the elderly and vulnerable.”

Trusted source

Meanwhile, the representative bodies for the national and local news publishing industries – NewsBrands Ireland and Local Ireland – have highlighted to the Government that the news media play a vital role in maintaining the flow of information to the public, crucial to a healthy democracy and, particularly crucial during the current crisis, where citizens must have access to accurate, fact-checked information, produced by professional journalists. 

As a trusted source of quality news, Irish newspapers are well-placed to counter misinformation, which is rife on social media.