The leader of Croydon Council has joined fellow south London local authority chiefs in calling on a newspaper group serving their areas to continue to offer a robust and reliable service.
Councillor Tony Newman is the co-signatory – along with councillors Stephen Alambritis (Merton), Lord True (Richmond), Kevin Davis (Kingston) and Ruth Dombey (Sutton) – of a letter to Tony Portelli, managing director of Newsquest (London), the company that publishes the Guardian series of newspapers, including the Croydon title.
Remarking that Newsquest had recently terminated its professional photography coverage across all its south London titles and, more generally, that there appeared to be an ongoing decline in the number of news editors and reporters, the letter states: “We are writing to express our concern about the risk of erosion of local news reporting in south London.
“It is essential that Newsquest has the capacity to report professionally, to provide the high-quality journalism residents in our boroughs expect. As leaders of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat councils, we all share a common commitment to transparency and openness. The role of the local press in providing independent reporting and challenge on our councils and other public bodies locally is vital to this.”
The leaders concede that they might not always agree with the views and opinions expressed in the newspapers, but stress the importance of local reporters and news photographers in ensuring the democratic well-being of society.
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council
“For more than 100 years, Croydon has been well served by fair, lively and challenging newspapers, and the Croydon Guardian has been a major contributor to that tradition.
“Nobody can deny that the newspaper industry is experiencing difficult times as readers look to different ways and formats to get their regular news fix but that doesn’t necessarily herald the end of the tried and tested mode of news delivery – the newspaper.
“In our letter, we urge Mr Portelli to be open and transparent about how Newsquest will continue to deliver a local news service that our residents can rely on and enjoy. We point out that his papers, quite rightly, challenge us to be open about our plans for the role and services of our councils, so it’s only right that he, too, is forthcoming.”