'A strong local newspaper would have prevented Grenfell' #CIPRDebate

A panel of top national journalists and a Member of Parliament agreed that a thriving local press would have prevented the Grenfell Tower disaster by giving residents a platform to raise concerns.

Chaired by President-Elect Sarah Hall Chart.PR, FCIPR, last week's #CIPRdebate explored the demise of local media and its implications for society.

The panellists agreed that the decline of regional newspapers caused serious problems for society. "Local news holds communities together" said former Daily Telegraph journalist Grant Feller. "We’re in a situation now where local residents don’t have a voice".

Schools Week Editor and Guardian columnist, Laura McInerney felt local media was still thriving in the form of blogs and online communities, but warned people were no longer being listened to.

"Local media is not failing, campaigning is failing. People are not listening to local issues in the way they once were," said Laura. 

London School of Economics media professor, Charlie Beckett warned that the media landscape had become nuanced, with residents favouring to access local information online. Social media sites have been a lifeline to local newspapers but Charlie warned outlets against relying too heavily on social media.

"Facebook is heavily vested in local communities but publishers need to be wary of becoming too reliant. Any changes in algorithms can have devastating consequences," said Charlie.

Sarah Hall Chart.PR,  FCIPR, CIPR President-Elect
We are living through a seismic change in the media. We need to understand the consequences of an underfunded local press, not just for us as PR practitioners but as citizens.

It was a pleasure to chair last week's debate and I'd like to thank Charlie, Laura, Grant and Matt for taking time to share views with us.
Sarah Hall Chart.PR, FCIPR, CIPR President-Elect

Look out for the views of all four speakers in the 2018 Q1 edition of Influence magazine, due out in February.

Notes to editors

Notes to editors

About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas. The CIPR is the largest membership organisation for PR practitioners outside of North America. By size of turnover and number of individually registered members, we are the leading representative body for the PR profession and industry in Europe.

The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).