Belfast Telegraph

Newspapers are far from finished, Belfast Telegraph editor tells Leveson

The editor of the Belfast Telegraph has told the Leveson Inquiry that the public's appetite for newspapers is far from over despite the difficult circumstances facing the entire industry.

Mike Gilson said the Belfast Telegraph competes in a "tough marketplace" in Northern Ireland, against other regional titles as well as UK-wide newspapers.

Mr Gilson was one of eight regional newspaper editors giving evidence at the Leveson Inquiry into Press standards, which was also addressed by Noel Doran of the Irish News.

Sounding a note of optimism at the inquiry into Press standards, Mr Gilson said "the old inky product is not dead".

"If you listen perhaps in this room and to other self-appointed media gurus, you would believe that that would be the case, and I believe a lot of imaginative strategies are now being developed to keep the old ink product alive," he said.

"I'm not as pessimistic as a lot of people might be about the mix, and I think at some point I think the phrase "bumping along the bottom" was mentioned earlier this week, and I think in terms of sales that will happen. I think there is still a big, big market for a physical in-the-hand product and I'm certainly not as pessimistic as some others."

Mr Gilson said the internet meant his journalists now reached a wider audience than ever before.

Off-the-record conversations between reporters and police officers were defended - although Mr Gilson quipped that "in many cases nowadays the chance would be a fine thing".

Questioned over the level of contact between the two, Mr Gilson said: "The way that information is closed off these days by organisations employing huge numbers of Press officers to stop the sort of thing that you're talking about is enormous."

He added: "My experience is of a gradual closing down of these things to the point at which it's bad for democracy."

Background

Prime Minister David Cameron set up the Leveson Inquiry last July in response to revelations that the News of the World commissioned a private detective to hack murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone after she disappeared in 2002.

This first part of Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, is looking at the culture, practices and ethics of the press in general and is due to produce a report by September.

Belfast Telegraph

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