Why are regional media important, crucial, and necessary? It’s simple: because we are just closer. Closer to the readers and their problems, regional companies and their struggles, strengths and weaknesses of the region. Because the interests and problems of the readers — very often fascinate and bother journalists themselves…
What’s worth mentioning, journalists working in the regional media of Spain, Israel, Norway, and Portugal are of a similar opinion. They also interchangeably repeat the adverbs “close” and “closer” — because it is so. “The issue of closeness to the reader is undoubtedly of the greatest importance for the regional newspaper. There is no point in repeating national topics when what really matters is our community,” says Artur Bacelar, journalist of “Jornal Maia Hoje”, a regional newspaper from Maia, Portugal.
“Regional media have a strong commitment to the territory in which they operate, contributing with objectivity and transparency to improve the quality of life of citizens. They also develop other important functions: they highlight the strengths of the territory in which they operate; they give visibility to actions that benefit the community; they work in close cooperation with the social and business factories; from time to time they are critical of those aspects that are not positive for their territory; they defend democratic values and transparency; and, last but not least — they provide citizens with plural information so that they can form their own criteria,” enumerates on the other hand Adela Sánchez of the Spanish El Diario Montañés.
“Because the regional media are the voice of the society, bringing structure to our everyday life. They keep citizens informed but at the same time they organise and promote a whole group of different initiatives. Events, workshops, work with children, education, charities and many others. Thanks to regional media our cities and regions have a stronger roots and our societies develop better,” as Jorge Gimeno Pawłowski of Atland Consulting sums up.
The pandemic test creates a network
However, acting locally does not exclude the exchange of experiences in an international group. “In Grupa WM, we really care about close contacts with our readers, the inhabitants of our region,” says Beata Tokarczyk, Management’s Representative for Operations. “But we also care about the company’s development in the international arena and openness to European markets and projects. We already have extensive experience with European and foreign partners, hence the idea of the European Regional Media Network — this is our next “child” that we intend to bring to adulthood. Grupa WM is the leader of this project.
“The pandemic has clearly indicated that the regional media are in the worst situation. First of all, their territorial coverage is narrower — which means lower availability and lower revenues. I thought that we should join forces with other media from different regions of Europe in order to be able to participate in international projects at the beginning. We also want to be an audible voice in Brussels, because together we simply feel stronger,” believes Beata Tokarczyk.
“I believe that cooperation, support, and constant exchange of good practices can only benefit,” adds Jarosław Tokarczyk, the president of Grupa WM.
“And if this process takes place in culturally different European countries, the profit is multiplied. Everyone gains, although each in a different dimension: publishers have access to proven solutions in other countries; journalists — experience and a different perspective on the affairs of regions and their inhabitants. Readers and users will benefit the most, because good practices in various regions of Europe will certainly translate into broadening horizons and a different perception of many issues. And for local communities, regional media will always be more important than nationwide media,” Jarosław Tokarczyk admits.