Speaking during a Holyrood debate on the role of local newspapers in the response to COVID-19, Iain Gray MSP highlighted the critical part played by the East Lothian Courier and other local newspapers across Scotland over the last year.
The debate, which was focused on the draft Scottish budget’s failure to extend business rates relief to newspapers during 2021-22, ranged over various aspects of the important work undertaken by the local press through the pandemic, including its role in providing information to the public and supporting local businesses.
Mr Gray spoke specifically about the Courier’s long-established contribution to East Lothian, and its essential role in the pandemic, especially during the first lockdown, in printing important information about the work of local resilience groups and other support for communities and individuals.
MSPs approved a motion recognising the vital work of local newspapers over the last year, urging the Scottish Government to extend business rates relief and to ensure that its advertising budget spend is invested in a way that supports innovative journalism and regional and local news.
Iain Gray MSP said:
“I welcomed the opportunity to speak in this debate on local newspapers and the response to COVID-19. It allowed me to highlight and commend the critical role that has been played by the East Lothian Courier and other local newspapers across Scotland during the pandemic.
“It’s not overstating it to say that newspapers have been a lifeline for many in our communities, particularly those without access to the internet. They have helped people to access the local information and advice needed on things like the work of local resilience groups and the support available from the Council and community organisations.
“I was pleased that my parliamentary colleagues were in broad agreement about the importance of local newspapers. I hope that the motion we passed will help ensure that the Scottish Government does more to support the industry now and after the pandemic.”