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A REVIEW into the future of British newspapers has been ordered by Prime Minister Theresa May, who has warned that the closure of hundreds of local papers is dangerous for democracy, fuels fake news and harms local communities.
The last decade has seen an alarming decline in local newspapers and over 40 were closed across the country just in 2017.
The Melksham Independent News, though, continues to buck the trend as our circulation continues to grow – 13,900 copies are now delivered door-to-door – with a newspaper packed full of local Melksham news.
Theresa May said journalism “is a huge force for good. But in recent years – especially in local journalism – we’ve seen falling circulations, a hollowing-out of local newsrooms, and fears for the future sustainability of high quality journalism.”
A 2016 study found UK towns which had lost their local newspaper, had suffered from a “democracy deficit” with reduced community engagement. The report said the loss of local journalism meant the public weren’t informed about local issues; local authorities weren’t scrutinised properly and there was a loss of community life.
Following the concerns shown for local newspapers by Theresa May, cllr Adrienne Westbrook, Mayor of Melksham said, “In my capacity as Mayor I go around to many towns and talk to local people and councils. I tell them about the Melksham News and what a fantastic resource we have here in our town. We are so lucky in Melksham to have an independent newspaper that lets the people of the town have their say on events and changes in the town.
“We can be rightly proud that we have this independent organisation that informs the people of decisions made by local councils and encourages participation by residents in lots of activities. I feel Melksham would be a poorer place without this facility.”
Ian Drew, editor of Melksham Independent News added, “The Melksham News remains an important part of community life for Melksham residents. Starting in 1981 and now reaching nearly 14,000 homes in Melksham and surrounding areas each fortnight, the paper is a family-run business with other titles in Westbury and Frome.
“Various community groups, charities and residents rely on a local paper to spread their message. The councils and representatives also use the space to connect with members of their districts and wards and campaigners use it to get themselves heard. Our aim is to cover as much as we can about life in Melksham. We try to pack the paper full of everything which is going on in the town.
“We get fantastic support from businesses in Melksham – it’s their advertising which makes the paper possible – and without them, there would be no Melksham News. We urge everyone locally to support them and hopefully together, the Melksham Independent News has a long and flourishing future.”