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Frome Times marches on despite decline in local newspapers

A REVIEW into the future of British newspapers has been ordered by Prime Minister Theresa May, who has warned that the closure of hundreds of local papers is dangerous for democracy, fuels fake news and harms local communities.

The last decade has seen an alarming decline in local newspapers and over 40 were closed across the country just in 2017.

The Frome Times, though, continues to buck the trend as our circulation continues to grow – 13,500 copies are now delivered door-to-door – with a newspaper packed full of local Frome news.

Theresa May said journalism “is a huge force for good. But in recent years – especially in local journalism – we’ve seen falling circulations, a hollowing-out of local newsrooms, and fears for the future sustainability of high quality journalism.”

A 2016 study found UK towns, which had lost their local newspaper had suffered from a “democracy deficit” with reduced community engagement. The report said the loss of local journalism meant the pubic weren’t informed about local issues; local authorities weren’t scrutinised properly and there was a loss of community life.

Following the concerns shown for local newspapers by Theresa May, Frome Mayor  cllr Richard Ackroyd has paid tribute to the role played by Frome Times.

“A vibrant local newspaper is invaluable,” he said. “Even with increasing access to self generated online platforms and chat groups there is still room for the ‘local rag’ as my dad used to call it.  Good old fashioned journalism and reporter led accounts of what is happening is for many the perfect way to find out about local events.

“A properly written story with accompanying photographs, some reflective thoughts to sum up events, great letters page – what could be better than that?

“It’s a shame that local newspapers are in decline. The problem is that as they reduce staff and become ever more centralised and owned by distant multinationals the local flavour is lost.  All that is left is a bog standard publication that apart from a couple of pages of local news could be bought anywhere in the country.

“But there are exceptions – the Frome Times is a perfect example and a must-read for everyone.”

Ian Drew, editor of Frome Times, added, “The Frome Times remains an important part of community life for Frome residents. Starting in 1998 and now reaching over 13,500 homes in Frome and surrounding areas each fortnight, the paper is a family-run business with other titles in Westbury and Melksham.

“Various community groups, charities and residents rely on a local paper to spread their message. The councils and representatives also use the space to connect with members of their districts and wards and campaigners use it to get themselves heard.

“Our aim is to cover as much as we can about life in Frome. We try to pack the paper full of everything which is going on in the town.

“We get fantastic support from businesses in Frome – it’s their advertising which makes the paper possible – and without them, there would be no Frome Times. We urge everyone locally to support them and hopefully together the Frome Times has a long and flourishing future.”

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