I have been rather critical on this blog about Doncaster mayor Peter Davies, but I must be fair and offer him some praise for scrapping Doncaster council's Doncaster News. The Doncaster Free Press must be glad as well.
However, nine out of ten local councils still have their own "newspaper", according to the Newspaper Society, which has written to the Audit Commission and the Office of Fair Trading to ask for an investigation into how taxpayers’ money is being used to fund these papers.
Lynne Anderson of the Newspaper Society told the Daily Telegraph: "We don’t have an issue with councils communicating with taxpayers about the services they offer, but we now have weekly newspapers from the town hall which take third party advertising and compete hand to hand with independent newspapers.
"I don’t need my council telling me how great it is all the time."
As I blogged in July, Andrew Gilligan and Roy Greenslade are worth reading as to why council newspapers are bad for local democracy as well as a waste of taxpayers' money.
Council plans to launch Internet TV channel:
Greenslade reported last month on Carmarthenshire County Council's plan to develop an internet televison channel,Carmarthenshire TV, that will cost £30,000 a year.
The majority of these costs will be paid by the Welsh Assembly, although Carmarthenshire County Council will drop one issue of their council magazine Community News, which cost £114,000 to produce and distribute in 2008.
While it is important that councils communicate better with residents, one wonders why councillors cannot simply film videos and put them on the existing council website, to avoid local residents thinking that they are watching an unbiased media report, or give a video interview to the Carmarthen Journal.
Also, while councils need to communicate essential information and promote campaigns, they should not be "spinning" news to make themselves look better.
Sadly, The Times reports that the Newspaper Society has been "rebuffed".