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Lib Dems can ‘become local media,’ claims ex-campaign chief

September 23, 2016 11:23 AM
By David Sharman in Hold the Front Page
Originally published by High Peak Liberal Democrats

mark-pack-200-x-2001A leading Liberal Democrat commentator has called on his party to "become the local media" in their areas.

Mark Pack, left, who ran the Lib Dems' online campaigns at the 2001 and 2005 General Elections, told his party's conference that what he called the "death" of local media represented a chance for activists to become the "Rupert Murdoch" of their constituency.

Mr Pack was speaking at meeting on the advance of technology in political campaigning at the conference, which took place this week in Brighton.

His comments were reported by Camden New Journal deputy editor Richard Osley, who was covering the event.

On his personal blog, Richard reported Mr Pack as saying: "The death of the local media creates an opportunity for us. Local newspapers are down on their uppers.

"Even those that are doing relatively well financially, you can look at the circulation of papers in terms of a proportion of the electorate and there is a possibility for local campaigning.

"Look at the number of people who read their local paper, and in some cases it is a shockingly low number, shocking because of what that can mean to holding local councils accounts. But it means there is an opportunity for you [Lib Dem campaigners] to become the local media.

"If you have a local paper that gets hardly any readership and we have a well-run email newsletter, you are the Rupert Murdoch of that constituency."

Mr Pack went on to say he knew of a Lib Dem candidate who had an email list larger than the number of votes he needed to win an election, and as such had a "grip" on the local media.

Richard told HTFP: "The same argument is sometimes made about council magazines, with some local authorities looking to jump into the space left where local newspapers have suffered in recent years.

"We can all understand why political parties and councils would want a one track media promoting their point of view - and you can't blame politicians for wanting to reach as many people as possible with their message.

"But this naturally opens up a risk about how the news is filtered. The good news in Camden, is that people still value the CNJ for being an independent paper. We've retained a high circulation, we get a good response rate and readers see it as a place where free debate can thrive.

"You can see that in four pages of letters each week, which are not just long lectures written by councillors."

If you would like to become the Rupert Murdock of High Peak please send your articles to webmaster@highpeaklibdems.co.uk