Too often recently I have seen social media posts starting with the words: “Some personal news. This is my last day at …”.

Many of these comments come from people who work in media or journalism.

After a long career in broadcasting in the South West I know many of these people personally or through their work reporting on events in Devon and Cornwall.

Their jobs are either being axed or changed because once again local journalism is going through a massive upheaval.

Recently a major publisher of local and regional newspaper and online titles announced more job losses affecting journalists employed here in the South West.

Meanwhile, the BBC is currently going through a painful process of reducing the number of local radio programmes it produces which will ultimately lead to the loss of some well-known and much-loved presenters.

The BBC’s plan is to divert money from traditional media such as radio and put it into digital platforms such as online and social media.

The belief is that audiences, particularly younger people, are consuming more of their news from their mobiles and other digital devices and therefore the BBC needs to boost its offering on those platforms.

It is hard to argue against that. All the evidence suggests that more and more news and information is being consumed that way.

There are many, though, who argue that investing in more digital content at the expense of local radio programmes is not the right way to go about it.

If you live in Penzance and your local radio programmes are coming from Devon, is that really local?

It gets to a point where the term “local” is diluted to such an extent it’s almost meaningless.

The BBC is making these changes in a bid to remain relevant. It has to keep refreshing its output to meet the changing demands of its consumers.

It has been very good at doing that over the years.

The brilliant BBC iPlayer was way ahead of its time and set the benchmark for many of the major global streaming services we have today. The BBC saw the future and got in early.

It remains to be seen if this latest strategy to cut local radio programmes to invest in more digital content will be as successful as iPlayer.

It’s a big gamble to mess with that formula just at a time when local journalism in general is under severe pressure.

The challenge for local newspapers and broadcasters is to continue reaching audiences when there is so much choice and so much competition.

The media landscape has changed beyond recognition within just my lifetime.

When I was a child growing up in Truro, the mighty West Briton newspaper reigned supreme. It was either that or one of the brilliant Packet newspapers.

Almost every family I knew would take one or the other and often both.

Sadly, like so many papers, the West Briton is not quite the mighty tome it used to be.

I know this because I have recently been going through several old editions from years ago.

I have been helping to clear the home of a relative who passed away last year and found a huge stack of West Briton newspapers.

He kept every edition in which someone he knew had been mentioned.


I even found copies going back to when I was at school and had been mentioned in the paper or had a photo taken as part of a fundraising event when I was in the sea cadets.

There were later editions in which I was featured through my broadcasting work.

It was very touching to find out my uncle had kept all these references to me in the West Briton.

It was also a reminder of just how massive the paper once was.

It ran to dozens of pages with a huge property section along with a very impressive section for second-hand cars.

I fondly remember scanning it regularly searching for my first car.

It was required reading for thousands. But I fear that level of devotion to newspapers, even from older readers, is waning.

I was talking to a relative over Easter. She used to live in the South Hams of Devon and we got on to the topic of local papers.

Like many of her friends she used to get the local paper every week.

But she told me hardly anyone she knows gets that paper now because it’s not the same and it’s too expensive.

That’s the problem. High quality local journalism is expensive to produce. So as media companies balance rising costs with the need to divert funds into digital content to chase younger consumers, they risk neglecting and alienating their traditional readers, listeners and viewers.

Now more than ever we need trusted sources of news locally, nationally and globally.

The Internet and social media in particular are awash with fake news.

One example recently was a photo claiming to show the Pope wearing a long white puffer coat. The picture wasn’t real. It was produced by Artificial Intelligence technology otherwise know as AI.

But it went viral and was reproduced widely on social media.

The first time I saw it I thought it was genuine and I would imagine millions of people around the world also believed it was the real thing.

That’s why we need to continue investing in and supporting strong, vibrant and trusted news providers.

It’s already hard enough to know what the truth is sometimes and it will become a very dangerous world if it gets any more difficult.

Thankfully this newspaper still enjoys great loyalty.

It’s wonderful to meet people in the street or the supermarket who tell me they read this column. Some even enjoy it!

Although there was one man who told me that although he reads my column, he has never actually got to the end of one.

I can safely reveal that here because he won’t have reached this paragraph.

But if you are one of those who have read this far, thank you.

And thank you for supporting local journalism. Long may it continue!

Bye for now.