Welsh Government Funded news stories

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  • #236472

    DerekJackson
    Participant

    Can’t share the same enthusiasm as Wrexham.com over the funding Welsh Government are going to provide to support media reporting from the Senedd.

    Once you have a Government funded organisation the level of openness will decrease as no one wants to upset their paymaster. We all ready have national newspapers that have distinct party political allegiance that spin the same news story to benefited a particular political narrative.

    Wrexham.com and others should think hard about becoming the mouth piece of the Welsh Government regardless of which Political Party is in power.

    #236502

    R T
    Keymaster

    Funding announced for new dedicated Senedd Reporter after Welsh independent media push

    The reporter is not being run by Welsh Gov or anyone close, as the article states – we wouldn’t be involved in anything like that.

    The good thing about what we do is what we publish is public. I would challenge anyone to show us as being a mouthpiece of anyone :) Likewise the output from this will be the same so easy to monitor.

    It has been our long held view that there is often more coverage over what goes on in our Guildhall than in the Senedd and something needs to change that. Legacy dying media are either not interested or don’t have the resources to do it – or both.

    A while back we trialed a Press Association feed and it was all but empty. During that trial we saw how some big media groups operation – it is why school and health stories from England and Scotland appear on Welsh news sites, but it is all traffic so who cares right?

    An opportunity to come up with ideas for half of this ‘pot’ of money arose and we again put forward the idea of a Senedd Reporter to hopefully go and have a poke down there, create some unique articles and add to the eyes on the place. The hope is it will be a bit like the Local Democracy Reporters that are currently funded as part of the UK Gov’s licence fee settlement – and are arms arms arms length away from that.

    If it works as intended there will be a new reporter based out of the https://caerphilly.observer/ (a bit like Wrexham.com or MyWelshpool down there) that the independent media of Wales can ‘direct’ – so hopefully lots more appearing on here about the local health board for example.

    The wider debate about who should fund media is an interesting one – assuming you believe media should exist – and who is getting what funding in what way already.

    The public want clickbait – or they indicate that preference by giving nonsense traffic – then a rinse and repeat. Facebook is currently accelerating that with an algorithm change meaning the ‘big boys’ have lost *loads* of traffic, probably the reason their Facebook pages have turned into desperate Peter Kay tribute acts – WalesOnline today asking for a petition to bring back Milky Bars, and more ‘local’ ‘oooh remembers the Beast Market?’ etc Look at several pages from the same media group and popular stuff gets repeated, form up article off reply and feed it back to Facebookers. People love it and engage though.

    Local and national government pay vast sums for ads in legacy publications – legally required ones get in the back of newspapers with no law change to stop it – and lazy media ‘experts’ advise the same for campaigns. There is no desire to ‘destabilise the current model’ – to quote a senior Welsh Gov comms bloke.

    UK Gov recently responded to a UK Parliament review ( https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/39981/documents/195044/default/ ) where UK Gov said they would look at exploring ‘additional fiscal measures’ to support the sector. Currently if you run a newspaper you get a business rates discount – perhaps more tax breaks? Legal Statutory notices wont be binned – basically its confirmed as a subsidy – “sudden withdrawal would seriously damage the sector and are therefore mindful that government intervention has the potential to adversely impact an already fragile industry”.

    There was also a call for an audit of public money that supports the local news sector. That was rejected as apparently everything is done properly already.

    My guess is who wants to be the politician/party/person who cuts off the final chunky revenue stream to ‘local’ papers? Media in Wales (and elsewhere) is in a mess and it probably could kill it. The amount of staff at what people probably think are still huge titles is tiny, and all likely being worked to the bone to hit ever nonsensical click targets.

    There are other options eg. USA has a different cultural view on it, with more philanthropic actions with desire for freedom of speech and interest appearing much higher.

    Back on topic – I would bet £38 no other publication in North Wales, or Wales, has paid the £38 to read the sub evidence about the 20MPH zones https://www.wrexham.com/news/wrexham-public-will-know-in-a-couple-of-weeks-which-roads-will-be-exempt-from-20mph-switch-236442.html

    My hope is the new reporter does that sort of thing, digs more, interviews the Ministers about it and checks out whats going on in the committee meetings down there.

    Should it be done via this cash? Debatable.

    Could the same mini group of indy titles in Wales be funding it direct themselves if they had say just 5% of the £800k promotional spend of the single 20MPH roll out campaign? Yes.

    Imagine if there was competitive commercial access to ALL the wider Welsh Gov ad spend* on the big range of campaigns and what could be done then! Imagine that for local governments…

    The issue is not just public money – the issues are mirrored locally, like Erddig paying for a ‘advertorial’ in Reach PLC and invite us to publish it for free etc etc, the apparently community spirited CO-OP being the opposite… it all contributes to the slow demise of media.

    Perhaps the article should have read ‘bin off the subsidies, and do ads not grants please‘.

    This is far too long a reply to an small point, but it is important and obviously something we care about!

    cheers
    rob
    (co-runs Wrexham.com for anyone unaware reading this)

    * If only there was a list! As there is naff all spend with indy media we recently FOI’ed to find out how big an issue it is… it seems odd grants, PR, interview ops etc are fine but ads are not. As for alleged ‘agency commission’ I would hope those paid to place the ad don’t get a kick back from where the ads end up either.

    https://www.gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2023-05/atisn17405.pdf

    Question:

    Titles and URLs promoted by Welsh Government via paid promotion.
    All campaigns that have been active in the last 12 months to date.

    Answer:

    Childcare Offer for Wales | Help With Childcare Costs Wales
    Superfast broadband
    Your Home in Wales
    Net zero skills Wales
    Safer at 20mph: Let’s look out for each other
    Housing law is changing: Renting Homes Wales
    Talk with me: guidance for practitioners
    Power up wales
    Here to help with the cost of living
    Help Us to Help You
    National Forest for Wales
    Get help with school costs
    Parenting. Give it time.
    Period Proud Wales
    Hate hurts Wales
    The Well-being of Future Generations
    Climate Action Wales
    Workplace safety
    A More Equal Wales: The Socio-economic Duty
    Welsh Language Music Day
    This is not ok – This is control – Concerned about a young person?
    Talk with me
    Live Fear Free helpline
    Don’t make your organ donation decision a guessing game campaign
    Apprenticeships
    Children’s rights: Information for children
    Together we’ll keep Wales safe
    Don’t be a bystander
    Call out only
    This is me
    Ending physical punishment of children
    Working together for a better Wales
    This is not ok – This is control
    Pay less Council Tax
    Cymraeg: education
    Our Valleys, Our Future
    Don’t let money get in the way of university
    Education is changing
    Living donation campaign
    Why choose higher education?
    This is sexual abuse. This is not OK
    Securing Wales’ Future
    30th Anniversary of the UNCRC
    Use your views
    This is control
    Cymraeg for kids

    #236503

    R T
    Keymaster

    Also, since writing that wall of text – the BBC have covered it as well with comment from Rich Gurner, editor and publisher of the Caerphilly Observer “I think the success of the LDRS in highlighting the work that councils do that can be mirrored by this project, and hopefully increase the understanding of the Senedd and its workings.”

    He said in part the project was making-up for market failure: “It’s is difficult to cast the blame on individual organisation, because if you ask any editor in any newsroom if they would like to have a dedicated reporter covering certain parts of society they would say yes, of course they would.

    “Unfortunately the current business model of the media is under huge amount of pressure and those resources that were perhaps there 30, 40, even 10 years ago, aren’t there today.”

    He added: “If there was any sort of suggestion that there would be editorial interference, I wouldn’t be involved in the project.

    “One of the caveats I’ve had in basically agreeing to be the home for this reporter is that you know, the final editorial say rests with with me.”

    More from BBC Wales political reporter on
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-66031549

    #236527

    DerekJackson
    Participant

    Thanks for clarity and further info- fingers crossed it works out

    #236851

    DerekJackson
    Participant

    How would a Welsh Government funded reporter report on the totally disastrous performance from Mark Drakeford and Vaughan Gethin at the Covid Inquiry. They actually admitted what many people have been saying for the past 3 years the Welsh Government was totally unprepared for a pandemic despite various planning and strategic opportunities to pre plan.
    Will our own MSs – Lesley Griffiths and Ken Skates now admit the Labour Party Government were not fit for purpose during the pandemic.
    What will Labour spin Doctors do to try and recover an undefendable position.

    #236852

    R T
    Keymaster

    Searching for stories on that this morning on titles that claim to be ‘local’ reveal zero stories.

    The BBC has https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-wales-66104269 .

    Incidentally both ‘local’ titles managed to report (one written by the ‘SEO Reporter’) on a false story on Rob McElhenney’s personal life. A story that originated via an anon email to a USA gossip site that was then picked up.

    Is that because readers want more celeb gossip than actual reporting of big issues, or one generates more traffic / clicks / ads so is worth doing?

    Or, to follow the logic on critics of the scheme in this thread, as the titles get large amounts of cash via the statutory notice system and large amounts of cash from Welsh Gov ads they don’t want to rock the boat?

    It does highlight the paucity of ‘proper’ reporting. Imagine a well funded media that does the ‘boring’ bits and what we all may learn.

    #236855

    R T
    Keymaster

    https://www.olddailypostlink.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/mark-drakeford-admits-wales-under-27258154? has popped up.

    Worth noting that is by “Bronwen Weatherby, PA” – Wales correspondent for Press Association.

    You can pay the Press Association about £15-20k a year for a feed and are then able to republish it.

    #241616

    R T
    Keymaster

    This is now live!

    Reforming the Welsh Parliament: Senedd members raise concerns about residency rules, vacant seats, and ministerial powers

    Quite interesting, and pretty nailed on that it wouldn’t be covered anywhere else.

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