New book by Carmel O’Toole & Adrian Roxan ‘lays bare the democratic deficit’ that ensues when local newspapers no longer properly hold councils to scrutiny’.

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Routledge have announced that Local Democracy, Journalism & PR by C3RI researchers, Carmel O’Toole and Adrian Roxan, will be published on 17 May 2019.

The book presents a critical examination of the impact of sustained large-scale austerity cuts on local government communications in the UK. The book asks, what is lost to local democracy as a result?

The authors present extensive interviews with communications professionals working across different council authorities. The book also includes in-depth case studies on the Grenfell Tower disaster, the Rotherham child-grooming scandal and the Sheffield tree felling controversy. These events all raise serious questions about the scrutiny and accountability of local authorities and the important role the media can and does play.

Further information on the book is available on our publication pages.


“This book lays bare the ‘democratic deficit’ that ensues when local newspapers no longer properly hold councils up to scrutiny. The less accountable public servants are the worse their decision-making becomes – and as a society we are the poorer for it.” — Tim Minogue, Editor, ‘Rotten Boroughs’, Private Eye

“This important book shines a light on one of the great tragedies of the modern media age – the decline of local journalism, and it explains what that means for democracy and accountability. In the age of ubiquitous free information many local communities are less well informed today than they were in the age of steam.” — Dominic Ponsford, Editor, UK Press Gazette

“Like the authors, I learned my trade on a local newspaper and even became a specialist ‘municipal correspondent’ covering council affairs. Much as the decline of the regional press fills me with despair, it is vital for our democracy that we find new ways of holding power to account in local communities. This timely analysis of the impact of emptying press benches in our town halls during the austerity years offers rich food for thought on how we might do so.” — David Brindle, Public Services Editor, The Guardian

“It is essential that local authorities are able to communicate what they are doing and that local media can hold them to account. This book demonstrates how both are at threat, to the detriment of local democracy and ultimately the day-to-day lives of citizens.” — Matt Tee, Chief Executive, IPSO