THE FUTURE of all Thurrock’s newspapers and media outlets is set to be thrown into doubt as Thurrock Council plans to launch its own fortnightly newspaper.
The paper is part of a radical communications strategy developed by consultants since the Audit Commission published its damning report which placed Thurrock Council in the bottom five in the country.
The extensive plans include a Chief Executive blog, fortnightly e-magazine, school newsletter, e-mail alerts as well as the fortnightly newspaper.
The plans are set to see the advertising that is placed in the Thurrock Gazette be placed in the council paper which could cost the Gazette in the region of £500,000 per year.
Andrew Gilligan of the Evening Standard put it very well when he said: “Could you imagine Gordon Brown, believing that the government aren’t getting the message across through The Times or Daily Mail, decides to plough millions into launch a rival newspaper called The Government. You would think he was mad. And yet that is exactly what the local councils are starting up, all over the country.
The Audit Commission are about to publish a report which assesses the effectiveness of council newspapers. If they damn them will the Tory lead administration change their mind.
Contrary to rumours it won’t break the Thurrock Gazette but if you were a Newsquest boss you would want to ask why they had just lost £500,000 worth of business.
Jobs may go, not only at the local papers but also within the communications department at Thurrock Council as well.
Wiping journalism off the map? Possibly. Diversity implications? What if BNP get into power, hold the balance of power or under proportional representation have a third of the seats?
Our real concern is the small but highly influential number of right-wing Tory Councillors who look at the free press in total contempt. That is where the real worry is.
The key word though may be: “Compete. Go out there and make a better product.”
After fourteen months, the award-winning YourThurrock is still here, out in the borough, every day, showcasing all that is good and also committed to asking the difficult questions on behalf of the public.
Here is an example of Council TV from Manchester.