State gets to work on municipal newspapers

Municipal newspapers will no longer use advertisements, and work has begun on guidelines over how these local newspapers informing the public should be released.

The Culture Ministry is cooperating with the Union of Municipalities over creating guidelines about what should or should not appear in informative municipal newspapers.

"This [using advertisements] is the only matter that the [Culture Ministry] work group report strictly says to be bad practice," said Jana Bunkus of the Union of Municipalities.

While Daiga Bitiniece, editor-in-chief of the Kurzemnieks daily and a board member at the Latvian Journalists' Association, said that while agreeing to forgo advertisement revenue is a welcome step, the content of these newspapers is still questionable.

"I think that the tendency has been very, very absurd that locals are being confused and readers can't differentiate no more whether it's information and articles made by journalists, or a public relations product," said Bitiniece.

Regional media routinely say that municipal newspapers, which in theory should be informative only, are often trying to work alongside independent media, thus disrupting the market.

Almost every single of the 119 Latvian municipalities has its own newspaper. Many of them publish these newspapers several times a month with information about the work of the city council interspersed by entertainment, classifieds and ads. 

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