By Harry Mottram: This is a bit of a gripe of mine – a cry of pain from the managers of local newspapers – who blame the demise of local media on the BBC. It is posted on the Somerset County Gazette website – and surprise – no comments are allowed. There is also a link from Tim Lethaby on LinkedIn. See

My reply: An interesting read but only part of the story. Having worked for Reach and Newsquest as a reporter – both organisations cut editorial staff, cut the amount of news pages in the newspapers and hiked the cover prices – while giving away editorial free on their websites – surrounded by pop-up ads – when the obvious thing to do was to have a paywall and retain quality local news within the newspapers. When Local Democracy Reporters (LDRs) came in funded by the BBC those media groups saw them as free workers and cut more editorial staff. Those signing this letter are complicit in the downgrading of local reporting – the BBC’s LDRs are excellent but can only cover a fraction of what is happening within local government the NHS and Police etc. To blame it all on the BBC is a distraction from the main problem which are the media groups who owned and then shut hundreds of local newspaper titles due to mismanagement. If you look at what the BBC cover locally it is still a tiny amount of news compared to what the local press covered 25 years ago – we still need local independent newspapers – but with enlightened management with a vision to see that readers will always pay for quality journalism – online or in print.