It is important to note that these changes have long preceded the internet, which has been routinely invoked in defence of further consolidation and cutbacks. Forty years ago, as a wave of death and consolidation swept local media, a study of the roles of the provincial press in the UK found that they carried out four central functions that were being lost as a result of closures and mergers: 1) fostering a sense of community identity and cohesion, and facilitating individual integration; 2) conveying political, institutional and cultural information and analysis, and creating a historical record of community affairs; 3) providing a platform for debate and complaint; and 4) publicising goods and services available, situations vacant, and announcements and notices (Jackson 1971).


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