The re-launch of the St Helena Independent – in competition with a government-funded rival – has prompted island blogger John Turner to oppose media subsidies.
But in the UK, one Conservative MP has called for tax breaks and financial assistance for local newspapers that cannot survive in the face of competition from the internet.
Louise Mensch says they are vital for local democracy – an argument that applies just as strongly in St Helena.
John writes about the issue on his internet journal, Random Thoughts From Offshore. He says: “Let me plant my flag firmly in the ground. I believe the government of St Helena should not be subsidising any media organisations. It is, in my view, a completely inappropriate use of taxpayers’ money.
“If the government seriously believes that media on St Helena needs help to grow… it should offer that cash to all of them, fairly.”
Louise Mensch has organised a debate at Westminster (24 April 2012) after learning that two daily newspapers in her Northamptonshire constituency were becoming weeklies.
She says: “The local press performs a unique function in our democracy, as often only a local paper will hold a council or MP to account. Government has to look at ways of preserving Britain’s most popular print media.
“When we think of so many things that are subsidised that have only limited appeal, surely there is a case for tax advantages for local papers.”
She says the UK government should think about “ways to facilitate local communities and businesses owning their own papers – like the supporters’ trust model for football clubs.”
Perhaps she should read The Saint Times – a newspaper launched by St Helena’s motocross club.
John Turner has been signed up as a columnist for the St Helena Independent, which re-launches on Friday, 27 April 2012.
Random Thoughts From Offshore – John Turner’s island blog
Mensch calls for more tax subsidies for local press – UK Press Gazette