16 JANUARY 1948, Page 14


SiR,—In your issue of January 9th Janus refers to the almost universal protest against the abolition of the petrol ration ; and quite rightly adds that the Government has never balanced one side of the case against the other. Precisely the same thing could be said about the drastic cut in. newsprint. In his article on The Local Weekly, Mr. L. C. Lloyd gives a telling list of the services which the local weekly, in normal times, renders to the social life of the community. But those services are now drastically curtailed through lack of space.

In its recently published report the Consultative Committee on Publicity for Local Government refers to the widespread lack of knowledge of local government work and to public apathy. To remedy this the Committee recommends, among other things, " the fullest possible use of the facilities offered by the local Press for supplying information to local people, since the local newspaper provides the best channel for a continuous flow of information, The Committee believes that immediate action could be taken on this point, and that no policy of improving publicity for local government can be effective unless full efforts are made to secure co-operation of local newspapers."

But what is the position? The unnecessarily severe cut in newsprint has made adequate co-operation between the local Press and local authorities impossible. The detrimental effects upon social life through inadequate publicity of municipal and social doings cannot be measured by dollars. It is indeed time that the Government balanced the small saving of dollars made by the newsprint cut against the far greater loss to social life and citizenship throughout the country due to the lack of space in the local Press. The apathy among local government electors which the Report Publicity for Local Government seeks to remedy, will find no adequate solution while the Press is partly muzzled through