"Local" News

News reporting in the "global village" we inhabit is now truly International.  Within minutes, local news is projected to radio and TV stations all around the world.  The coverage of natural- or man-made-disasters, war, violence, terrorism, politics, economics, crimes and sporting achievement (or less likely failure) reaches almost every small town on the globe in a few hours, at most.  News of Institutional-, Political-, Financial-, fraud and criminality does not travel so fast or so accuratelyReleased to National & International News Media and politicians several weeks ago.  Investigations into local corruption or breaking news from whistle blowers trying to expose wrongdoing in their sector of life (or area of expertise) are increasingly muted by news corporations that have almost completely removed effective political control  (& funding) both at National level and at Local/Provincial level.  

Most small towns of over 5000 citizens had small independent newspapers (often close to their railway terminus) sharing news of births marriages and deaths; local events; inspirational figures, incidents, job prospects and the output of local investigative journalists working under localised editorial or managerial control. We now have TV and online newscasting which threatens to displace printed copy everywhere.  Almost everyone of these towns had branches of big reliable national banks (who were ultra-keen to look after citizens savings and then to invest the capital with which they were entrusted) in local or international initiatives which were in turn the focus of the news vents of the time.  This balance of local and national reporting, job creation with honest & informed investment has served the G8 countries well for almost 100years.  Yes there were press barons but they were public figures and employed large numbers of industrial staff and reporters with an eye for a scandal and an ear to the ground to expose all readers, listeners and viewers to the truth (at whichever range they chose to focus).  Now we have corporate giants that own all the news vents (everywhere), earn massive salaries, project trivia and lurid scandal at the masses and who appear hell bent on removing critical local news reporting or commentary from our daily lives.  Take a look at the compliance regulations for one corporate organisation (that owns my local paper, see below) that controls hundreds of newspapers across England Ireland, Ulster, and Scotland.  The terms and conditions for posting news or comments are truly prohibitivecompliance or confusing? and the local vents for citizens to flag important events locally, regionally or internationally have almost entirely closed.  Unless, that is, you agree with the slant of the corporate teams who have been appointed to turn "news and debate" into "propaganda and idle gossip".  Celebrity is important but celebrity, across thousands of media vents with no useful purpose, is a diversion that modern day politicians/media magnates cannot live without.  Ironically, it is now (with the impact of globalism coming home to roost) a threat to their (politicians) next term in office, the treasury coffers and their capacity to govern effectively.  The removal of informed debate and the mindless editorial control that can see our beloved royal family mocked by ruthless media gurus like Murdoch, Berlusconi, Conrad Black and all their global associates is shameless.  The titilation of the masses will be no consolation when the masses can no longer afford to fund the celebrities and western society is right on this cusp in 2012......the mutilation of the masses by brutality has been the "go to" response for way over 2000 years and Kings and Queens did the fundraising for their own armies throughout this period.  Newspapers covered the might of Empire, the education of the globe, the completion (almost) of literacy, numeracy and multi-lingual education at primary secondary and tertiary level. Triumphs and catastrophes on the battlefields (almost entirely overseas for the G8 countries recently) and public health we now have were reported on dutifully and patriotically.  Now we would rather leer at a royal princesses natural assets, celebrity sleaze or racial innuendo in the west than try and share our wealth and knowledge with the developing world!  Elsewhere on this site, I describe the asset stripping of the local banking sector by highly paid executives....who are being paid a personal fortune to hand over control to corporate giants in the stock market and financial services sector. This process is now in train in local news reporting and if you want to disseminate the truth then you are increasingly forced to whisper in a quiet corner to your educated friends (who are also faced with losing their jobs and pensions), your political representatives, or your own children who are being ripped off in an unprecedented way by their own parents (because we have no vent for critique, empowerment or social conscience that can change policy until people are starving).  

As an arbitrary example, lets take my local paper:  it is called the "Southern Reporter". It is part of the Tweddale Press Group (one of Johnston's many subsiduary groups) which covers most of the Borders region from the head of the Tweed & Teviot valleys to the East Coast/English Border at Berwick.  It is part of the Johnston Press PLCLocal MONSTER? that has fallen from the 100 most prestigious companies on the London Stock Exchange like a stone (like several  other media companies)Top news to mundane FTSE relegation zoneShare price £5 to under 10p since 2007.  Nevertheless, local papers are vital and all we have in the  "regions" or even the metropolitan cities. Johnston Press is surprisingly large: spanning the length and breadth of the UK with many many news outlets, be they printed magazines/newspapers or "E" online vents for breaking newsfull list in appendicesGates at Microsoft "Open" up the printed media & investigative journalism to more job losses..  But with the financial crisis, rising costs, diminishing advertising revenues and shareholders to nurture, even this critical mass cannot shield these conglomerates entirely from the financial winds of change issue of conscience or just flawed corporate governance....BLUSHING RED.  . Now the balance sheet is almost all RED and the cliff top along which business viability teeters is ever closer350 million deficit but shareholders dividends still paid!

Now the trading profits are negative, the production costs are prohibitive but the recruitment campaigns and remuneration packages (seeking new talent from the media giants who can get Enews out online) are ultra ambitious.  The company has a net burden of Debt of over £350million (but the lenders are not identified anywhere in the 2011 annual reportNothing on Salaries for reporters & print staffExecutive SUMmary)  The one element of the local newspaper industry which is thriving is executive pay!   Johnston's as they dropped out of the elite media stockmarket swim payed their outgoing CEO (in 2010) more than Lord Patten receives as head of the BBC trustFry up at the top of the salary tree. The new CEO was given a generous £0.5Mstart up deal and share bonuses are prominent despite the debt problems and rising costsdigital transformation to cut the production costs. There are very close parallels here with the banking sector....failing executives drive their companies into bankruptcy and then are payed for at the public's expense (and I dont mean the subscriptions for print copy).  I mean bailouts and stimulus packages to the failing sector, particularly its leaders.  The disappearance of big banks (even though almost all are now corrupted) might be a disaster for local and national investors (who invest there) but the disappearance of free unconstrained vents for local news is a double whammy for the political and media paymasters right at the top of the propaganda tree.  It is a potential catastrophe for analysts and thinkers all across the globe.  So watch the executives at Johnston's (they are surprisingly open about identity and remuneration in spite of what looks like corporate insolvency looming).  Just two days before I drafted this all the boards Email contact details were available but they have now been removed from the company website (see file that was Emailed to the Johnston's Board .  They are in a position to start a renaisance in modern day reporting though and to uphold the virtues of the papers and news media they lead.  JUST IMAGINE IF YOU HAD TO LOOK AT ROYAL CLEAVAGES EVERY WEEK BECAUSE MURDOCH, BERLUSCONI and the MEDIA FAMILIES (AND IT SEEMS THE UK GOVERNMENT who are incredibly close to News Corp policy) WANT RID OF LOCAL NEWS OUTLETS!  It is very frustrating to try and alert your local community to these immense risks when none of the material on this website (some of which has been submitted to the Southern Reporter as letters to the editor) are not published and the local editor refuses to meet (or correspond with) the concerned parties who are exposing these scams and trying to save jobs locally.  It is vital that accurate news breaks everywhere around the globe!  We need to start adhering to economic principles, like performance related pay, and sustainable local job creation, right in the face of BIG BROTHER in the SKY, Fox, ITN, CBC, Mondadori and BBC Corporate Empires!  Panic must be avoided at all costs....local news vents are an important feature of any open democracy. 

 The editors (locally) and the executives at head office are exposed to the same scams and banking financial instruments that the rest of the western world face: they must confront these openly (and their mounting debt) rather than get caught in the web of financial flytraps that allows the banking and the stock market leaders to earn obscene profits within this complex totalitarian jungle.  National governments, local councils, football clubs, housing associations, middle class taxpayers and now customers/newsreaders everywhere are being cheated blind by private banking fraudsters.  The banks (and stock markets) will stop at nothing unless they face prosecution with sentences which are a genuine deterrent and the "free press" needs to turn on this legitimized financial services& banking mafia once and for all.  The CEO of Johnston Press PLC is blushing in this photoMurdoch in your high street?...this suggests he may have a conscience about why the future of printed papers is LTD (and why the media magnates who now have national leaders in turmoil....have a total monopoly on open reporting).  Please note that much of this correspondence was sent to both my local paper (who have severed communications and declined to give me a meeting)  and my elected political representatives (some of whom have acknowledged their concerns on the constrained " freedom of the press" and its  impact for society both local and international).  No doubt the whelping and whingeing will come when the job losses come to sustain the shareholdersAsk for news here and the un-named lenders who are able to nurture the prospects of highly paid executives (who are running hard just to stand still).dividends printed in house: virtual incomegroup performance: swimming with the sharks without a dividend.  If the executives eventually meet the new globalised corporate goals this sad news will not be in print!
George Lees,
21 Sep 2012, 04:59