Don’t let this virus kill off our newspaper industry too. We may need our local news sources more than ever.

NationalPROVINCIAL

I have always been a news junkie.

When I was about seven, I think, I produced a little thing, about A5 size, called the Daily Midget.

I made three copies and sold one to my father and two to a couple of friendly neighbours.

I think there were about five issues in all.

The news it contained was about a real and reliable as the news we’re getting now on social media in relation to the Coronavirus/Covid-19.

Bad and all as that is, it’s probably more reliable than anything uttered by Donald Trump.

The thing is, there is so much misinformation out there that it is becoming a major part of this crisis.

There are people telling us that young people who catch this virus will experience “mild ‘flu-like symptoms.”

That is simply untrue.

That idiot Tim Martin, owner of Wetherspoons, told the world that the virus was not being transmitted in pubs. Utter nonsense. Dangerous nonsense.

Trump has, several times, told America that a cure is within our grasp. A lie, pure and simple.

Boris Johnson put Britons at risk with his “herd immunity” nonsense, suggesting that the more people who were infected the better.

There was bad news yesterday for the industry in which I have played a small part for almost 50 years.

The Meath Chronicle, a superb local paper which has been around for more than a century, laid off staff – temporarily – due to the virus.

People aren’t going into newsagents. To be honest, newsagents are a dying breed.

There is no specialist newsagent in any of the urban villages near where I live. You get your newspaper in the supermarket if you want it.

The whole concept of newspapers is under threat.

You may think that doesn’t matter.

But it does.

Because if Irish newspapers, national and local die, you will be relying on imports for your news. They will kill off the Irish editions as the London Times has already done.

In fairness, the Irish versions of papers like the Mail and Sun are far superior to their parent newspapers in Britain.

But they’ll all go. Our indigenous newspapers and the Irish editions of English newspapers will all disappear.

Indeed, if the fools who want the television licence scrapped have their way, we will eventually see RTE die. Rather than scrap the licence, it should be increased and more given to our independent broadcasters.

Look online and there are trolls and bots constantly slagging off newspapers. Journalists are all part of some great conspiracy it seems. Well, that’s been my job for 47 years so I must have missed all the meetings where these conspiracies were planned.

Maybe I was the only one who never received an instruction from a proprietor to drop a story or write a story or change a story.

We’re small. Our local news sources are constantly under threat from the way society is changing and from the mistaken belief that any information or news we need can be got from the internet or from non-Irish sources.

It can’t.

Do we want to end up relying on something similar to Fox News in America to tell us what’s going on?

Do we really want to buy the English editions of The Sun and Daily Mail for our news?

This virus is going to change a lot of things and it’s going to change a lot of things forever.

If we lose our indigenous newspapers, if we even lose the Irish editions of imported newspapers because sales collapse due to the pandemic, they won’t come back.

Support them.

If you are in a shop, pick up a newspaper.

If you’re avoiding shops, subscribe to the online papers.

And if you’re the Minister for Finance or a TD reading this, try to get VAT taken off our newspapers be it the physical or digital version.

To paraphrase what that radio ad says: get your newspaper now because when they’re gone, they’re gone.

They’re definitely gone.

 

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