‘Widespread support’ for work of Johnston Press journalists

Louise Haigh, Sheffield Heeley MP
Louise Haigh, Sheffield Heeley MP

MPs have emphasised the importance of newspapers and journalism during a debate in Parliament.

The debate comes after JPIMedia, a newly-formed company owned by bondholders of former firm Johnston Press plc – publisher of The Star, Sheffield Telegraph and Doncaster Free Press – acquired of the group in a move that safeguards its future.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh said there was 'widespread support for the Sheffield Star, Telegraph and Yorkshire Post’ and in particular, the staff.

Rebecca Pow, Conservative MP for Taunton Deane, Somerset, said: “Having worked in the media for a greater part of my life and for many years as a freelance, I really do understand the importance of our local newspapers and all the type of publications that Johnston Press publishes.

“Not just for publishing newspapers but for training journalists and giving them a place to learn their trade and then go on nationally – we need these people.”

In response, Jeremy Wright, the secretary of digital, culture, media and sport, said Dame Frances Cairncross, would look at ‘high-quality journalism’ as part of her review into the industry.

He said: “One of the things that we expres Dame Frances Cairncross to do is, and that we will wish to act upon, is to preserve high quality, well-souirced authoritative jouranlism at a local and at a national level.

“It’s fundamental to the way in which we hold power to account and it's important, we belive, as part of the antidote so called fake news.”

Ms Haigh also raised a question about the pensions of former JP workers and said there was ‘concern’ regarding some of those staff.

Mr Wright said: “My understanding is that all those in receipt of their pension will not be affected by the change.”

David King, chief executive of JPIMedia said the acquisition of the Johnston Press business by JPIMedia secured jobs.

He added: “The sale of the business to JPIMedia is an important one for the Johnston Press businesses as it ensures that operations can continue as normal, with employees’ rights maintained.”