The stories we're not being told

What’s happening to local news? This Thursday’s meeting at Oxford Town Hall will be an attempt to answer that question. Both print and broadcast media in Oxfordshire are undergoing cutbacks that seriously undermine our access to the news, so the NUJ Oxford & District Branch have organised a public meeting to discuss the crisis.

Since I last blogged about Newsquest, Newsquest Oxfordshire has announced four new editorial redundancies. In the north of the county, the Banbury Guardian team have been cut to the bone.

As for broadcasting, ITV will almost certainly be scrapping its Thames Valley bulletins in the near future, which means that Oxfordshire news coverage will be rolled into coverage of the whole South-East England region. The Abingdon-based news team will be cut from 46 employees to just three.

It’s hard to exaggerate the potential consequences of these cutbacks. If local journalists don’t have the resources they need to do their jobs, we all suffer by being starved of real news.

Nick Davies, author of Flat Earth News, will be talking on Thursday about how overstretched newsrooms are depriving the public of quality information. He’ll be joined by Michelle Stanistreet, deputy general secretary of the NUJ, to give a union perspective on the cuts.

We’ll also be hearing from Cllr Susanna Pressel, Mayor of Oxford, who will explain why local news coverage is important to local democracy. Finally, David Horne of the Oxford Mail and Witney Gazette will talk about what it’s like to work as a journalist in current conditions.

I’ll be chairing the meeting and I’m hoping to see a packed room. The event is free and it’s definitely not just for professional journalists; it’s for anyone who cares about quality local news coverage.