Monday, 5 December 2011

THANET GAZETTE ON THE VERGE OF A MERGER?

The Isle of Thanet Gazette could very well be sailing into choppy waters, if UK regional journalism news website HoldtheFrontPage is to be believed. In an article published last week, it claims plans may be afoot to merge the Isle of Thanet Gazette and its sister paper, the Thanet Times, with the Canterbury Times, the Faversham Times and the Herne Bay & Whitstable Times.

Could that mean our beloved local newspaper will be subsumed into a cross-regional North East Kent rag? If so, I feel this occurrence could potentially have calamitous consequences for grassroots local news reporting in our area. John Nurden, Editor at Kent Regional News and Media, didn't seem pleased with the news either, tweeting about the merger by saying: "The words fire and frying pan come to mind."

You may remember the blog article I wrote a few months ago in which I stated my opposition to Kent Messenger Group's attempt to buy several Northcliffe Media newspapers, of which the Isle of Thanet Gazette was one. In the end, KM pulled out of the deal in October after it was referred to a full Competition Commission inquiry. As Roy Greenslade has stated: “The companies decided they could not afford, in terms of either money or time, to argue their case through a commission inquiry.”

Greenslade seems to presume that talks of merging the Isle of Thanet Gazette with other regional titles are part of “the gloomy fall-out from Northcliffe Media's blocked attempt to sell seven Kent titles to the KM group.” I can't help but feel that should a merger come to pass it could prove hugely detrimental to local journalism in the long run. After all, since a North East Kent rag would spread news reporting thinly over a large geographical area, how will we be able to call it genuinely local at all?

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