LETTER: The ‘local paper’ binds community together

DO you share my mixed feelings on welcoming LymeOnline?

This phoenix rises from the ashes of the View From stable of free papers that covered West Dorset, East Devon and South Somerset. Local newspapers are being wiped out nationwide as advertising moves online: the wonder is not that the View From titles fell victim to that tide, but that they battled on so long despite it.

When papers die, so do jobs. The talented, predominantly young team that brought us our free weekly news, information and comment must now hunt for jobs in a difficult climate.

When a community paper dies, the staff pay the most direct and human price; but also lost is something of what binds the community together. ‘The local paper’ has for generations been one of the most important ways that those who live in a place access a common store of knowledge about it, share ideas and wishes for it, and hold to account those who govern it. Social media, even when responsibly used, cannot fulfil those needs.

Regret at what’s lost, then. But also a welcome for the new, an online source of things we need to know, a fresh way for the community to talk with itself about what matters.

For elderly stick-in-the-muds like me, it’s good to know that a regular print version will arrive in my letterbox (a logistical feat in itself); it’s great that the coverage is Lyme, Charmouth and Uplyme, recognising a neighbourly inter-dependence that transcends both boundary-lines on a map and political inwardness.

So good luck to the new venture. Even more than luck, it will need the support of its advertisers, most of them local businesses. Among the many contributions that business makes to our community, its share in sustaining a serious local ‘press’ – even if ‘press’ is no longer a true descriptor – is a vital social good. Let’s welcome that, too.

Chris Boothroyd,
Uplyme Road, Lyme Regis

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