Cheadle MP leads fight to save local paper

March 20, 2009 4:59 PM
Stockport Express

Mark is campaigning against the job cuts at the Stockport Express

Cheadle MP Mark Hunter yesterday spoke out in the House of Commons against the decision by the Guardian Media Group (GMG) to shut down the Stockport editorial office of the Stockport Express and Times and cut journalists jobs. Last night Mr Hunter met with the Chief Executive of GMG Regional Media, Mark Dodson and other Stockport MPs to discuss the announcement, after they co-wrote a letter of protest printed in the Guardian.

The GMG, which owns the Manchester Evening News (MEN) and 22 weekly titles in the area including the Stockport Express and Stockport Times, this week announced 150 job cuts. This number includes 78 journalists - 39 from the MEN and 39 from its weekly publications including the Stockport Express. Some of job cuts will be voluntary but there will be compulsory editorial redundancies for the first time at the MEN.

The Chief executive also announced that they would be shutting the Stockport editorial offices and moving the remaining journalists into the Manchester offices. The Stockport Express and Times will now be designed on a common template with other local weekly papers, with a shared central section taken from the MEN's 'leisure and entertainment' content. The remaining pages will be created by a pool of journalists based in Manchester and will 'share' content with the MEN and other weeklies.

Speaking after the debate and meeting Mr Hunter MP said: "This news has been a real blow, not only to the journalists working on the papers involved but also to the local community. To hear that the Stockport Express and Times won't be produced in Stockport and won't be produced by local journalists means that the paper will loose its local community flavour that its staff have worked so hard to create and maintain. The many residents who rely on the Stockport Express for information about local events and news, and to strengthen the local identity will I know be saddened by this news.

"The Stockport Express, and the other local papers in the area have for years provided independent and excellent quality journalism. They play an absolutely vital role, not only in reporting the news but also in holding the Government, local elected representatives and other public authorities to account. Now, when the country is facing an economic crisis, more than ever we need newspapers and journalists that are committed to working on behalf of the local community.

"When I met with the Mark Dodson last night I impressed on him the importance of supporting not only our local papers but also our local journalists; that the link between local community and local paper was important for both and the breaking it would speak disaster for the future of the papers. I asked him to reconsider the proposals and find some way of keeping our local paper, local."

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