For an example of how regional newspapers are suffering in these straitened times look no further than the business pages.
A few titles are still managing to fund vibrant, independent-minded business sections, while others have either heavily pruned them or axed them completely.
With newsrooms beginning to resemble the Mary Celeste it’s hard for editors to find anyone to cover local commerce and industry, but there’s danger in abandoning this sector of news.
It’s probably true that well researched business pages do not dramatically improve newspaper sales. In the latest daily paper circulation figures, titles with the best business pages do not seem to be faring any better than those that have given up.
But readable, accessible, relevant business coverage is an essential part of the news mix. It can affect thousands of readers and if the job is not being done another reason for using newspapers is removed.
Newspapers and their supporting websites need to retain credibility with the business community for all kinds of reasons, not least advertising and the fact that many business leaders are key opinion formers.
Business is a difficult subject to cover without boring non-business readers. But it can be done and papers that do it well are providing an important service, protecting their own brand and earning respect.
-GARETH WEEKES, DEEP SOUTH MEDIA