In a few weeks time Brighton & Hove will no longer have a daily paper. In reality the paper we already have has declined so much that most people will not notice that they will be buying a Southampton paper with a couple of Brighton and Hove inserts.
Next Thursday and Friday November 18/19th journalists on the local Argus go on strike. Argus owners, Newsquest, who in turn are owned by the massive US Gannett Foundation, have decided to relocate to Southampton. 7 journalists will be sacked in Brighton and just 2 will remain in a poky little office faxing over undigested press releases.
The new Argus will have a couple of pages at most devoted to Brighton & Hove. There will be a central paper with various local inserts, all produced in Southampton and all making a small fortune for the appropriately named Gannetts. Our local paper, warts and all, will have disappeared. It goes without saying that strikers should be given full support and I urge everyone to turn up to the picket lines, from 8 am onwards at Crowhurst Road, Hollingbury (itself 4 miles out of town) to demonstrate their solidarity with the journalists. Tonight Brighton & Hove District Trades Union Council voted to send a donation to the strikers’ hardship fund and to give their full support.
The Argus has declined rapidly in the last 4 years and under its current editor, Michael Beard, has become a shadow of its former self. Its staff are constantly changing, so bad is the pay, and they have been pared to the bone.
There are no investigative reporters at the Argus any longer. As Andy Richards from UNISON at the Council recalled at tonight’s Trades Council meeting, when workers were successfully opposing the New Labour Council’s attempts to privatise Housing Benefit and give the contract to Capita, an Argus journalist went up to Lambeth, whose Housing Benefit service Capita ran, and spoke to ordinary people about how crap the service was. That played a major part in stopping Capita, which had taken on Council Leader Lord Steve Bassam as a Consultant, from taking over the HB Service in Brighton & Hove.
No one covers the courts. When I recently sent out a press release about a local Employment Tribunal I was told that the idea of an Argus journalist covering a 2 day hearing was out of the question. 6 years ago a reporter sat through all 6 days of a hearing. Press releases are printed in whole or not at all.
I was told over a year ago by a Tory councillor that the Argus was going to relocate to Southampton. When I put that to a journalist on the Argus he denied it. Now it is all too true, having already shifted their printing to Southampton.
Years ago we had the Brighton & Hove Gazette now there is the pathetic Leader free sheet. The reality is that Brighton & Hove no longer has a local paper any longer and the only way to bring its owners to their senses is to boycott it. An area the size of Brighton & Hove is entitled to more than a free sheet or centrally produced rag churned out by an American multinational.
The Corporate media is downsizing into free sheets on the lines of London’s Standard. Or the Internet is turning them into Internet only papers as in the USA.
It would be interesting to see where veteran reporter Adam Trimmingham stands on this. My guess is he will support the bosses at the Argus as he has long lost the ability to do anything but tug the forelock of the powers that be. I hope I’m wrong.
See here and also: