Decline in local press 'disempowers communities'
A report commissioned by Media Trust said the decline of local newspapers had left many feeling disempowered, unheard and irrelevant and may significantly hinder the emergence of the much debated 'Big Society'.
The paper, written by Professor Natalie Fenton from Goldsmiths Media Research Centre, highlights the link between strong local media and proper accountability and democracy.
Caroline Diehl, Media Trust founder and chief executive, said: "This report undeniably makes the case for a vibrant local media as a cornerstone of democracy, accountability and social enterprise.
"If communities are to respond to the government's call to hold the authorities to account, there needs to be an effective independent mechanism for doing so.
"Transparency is meaningless without free and easy access to information and the means to test, challenge and debate it."
The research also showed members of the public wanted to get their local news from old-fashioned newspapers. Ms Diehl added: "There is a latent demand for the rapidly disappearing, truly 'local' newspaper, for quality investigative journalism that can represent and reflect local concerns, underpin accountability and arguably, be the key tool in bringing back a sense of community.
"They want journalists, local news and newspapers back at the heart of their communities."