Historicising The Afterlife

Local newspapers in the United Kingdom and the ‘art of prognosis’

Authored by: Rachel Matthews

The Routledge Companion to Local Media and Journalism

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815375364
eBook ISBN: 9781351239943
Adobe ISBN:


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The dominant debate surrounding the legacy local and regional newspaper industry in the United Kingdom is one of terminal decline, which justifies the response to the precipitous fall in advertising revenues of cost-cutting and closure. This chapter suggests that this understanding is underwritten by a collective amnesia that besets the industry, and that leads it to seek to regain a mythologised version of itself, reinterpreted for our digital age. Instead the chapter advocates for an historical approach to the development of the local newspaper and calls for a re-appraisal of the meanings we associate with local newspapers. The analysis re-positions the crisis-hit advertising-led model, justified by a discourse of public service, which dominates the contemporary local newspaper market in the UK as an epoch rather than an end. Significantly, this approach enables us to reframe the claim to social benefit these newspapers make and, in doing so, history enables us to dare to imagine a future for those legacy titles.

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