Today in the Life?: Hackney Council insists replacement for controversial freesheet contains ‘information, not news’

The council has brought out a new publication, Hackney Life, after a High Court judge ruled it could not continue publishing Hackney Today. The council has brought out a new publication, Hackney Life, after a High Court judge ruled it could not continue publishing Hackney Today. A new council freesheet has appeared in residents’ letterboxes which the Town Hall insists contains “information, not news”, as it awaits confirmation on whether its planned appeal to continue publishing its controversial newspaper has merit.

Hackney Life is to be sent to residents in place of Hackney Today, which the Town Hall remains determined to attempt to continue putting out on a fortnightly basis, despite a judge ruling in favour of the government’s direction for it to follow the law and publish quarterly.Mrs Justice Andrews in her ruling made clear that she agreed with communities secretary James Brokenshire that frequent publication of Hackney Today represented a competitive threat to local media, but the council has so far refused to reveal on what basis they plan to appeal her decision.

Ramzy Alwakeel, editor of the Hackney Gazette, said: “I believe the existence of a fortnightly council freesheet in 2019 is a significant obstruction to genuine local newspapers – not just by taking away advertising but perhaps more significantly by fooling time-pressed readers into thinking they’ve already had their local news and therefore don’t need to pick up the Gazette or the Citizen.”I welcome the decision by Hackney Council to suspend publication of Hackney Today while it considers its position, but I’m disappointed that this turn of events needed the intervention of the government, which is obviously not an ally we would ever choose.

“Despite the existence of Hackney Today, the Mayor of Hackney has been a vocal champion of the Gazette and Citizen. I share, and am encouraged by, his oft-stated belief that a thriving local press is essential to a healthy democracy.”I am confident that both Hackney’s local papers will now prove more than adequate for the council to get its own messages to the public, while continuing to fulfil the vital function that Hackney Today could not: that of holding the Town Hall to account.”

The first issue of Hackney Life includes ‘information’ on artist Kevin Gill’s Brexit-themed painting, as featured in both the Citizen and the Gazette as well as blocks of text informing residents about a new consultation on the future of Hackney Central and an essay on the expansion of a residents’ group.

When pressed the Town Hall was unwilling to confirm how frequently Hackney Life will be published, or whether Hackney Today is temporarily on hold or gone forever.Keith Magnum, editor-in-chief of the Hackney Citizen, said: “It would be remarkable if central government decided to deliver door to door a fortnightly newspaper full of positive stories to all UK residents.

Thanks to Hackney Gazette for the post:

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