Local papers have a ‘big role’

A SENIOR Government minister has spoken of the importance of regional and local newspapers.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley talked about the issue at a newspaper conference breakfast briefing.

He said: “People, if anything, attach more importance, read more carefully, absorb more fully what is in their local and regional newspaper than they do what is in the national newspapers.”

At the session in the House of Commons, chaired by Newspaper Conference chairman Graeme Demianyk, London editor of the Western Morning News, Mr Lansley said he believed local newspapers have a “very important” role in informing people about what is going on around them.

“You’re talking about things that matter to them,” said Mr Lansley, who was addressing 10 political editors and correspondents writing for regional press titles across the UK.

He spoke a wide range of topics including hospital waiting lists, infection rates, and PFI initiatives.

At the lunch, the Newspaper Society also raised the fear of the General Medical Council (GMC) ending public hearings of fitness to practise panels, a move which the society believes could undermine public confidence in the medical profession.

The Health Secretary was handed a submission from the Newspaper Society on the issue and Mr Lansley said he would respond later on the subject.