WAG & Western Mail

[cy]Mae ‘na drafodaethau diddorol wedi bod yn digwydd yn ddiweddar ar ôl i Bethan Jenkins AS (bydd rhai ohonoch a fu yn fyfyrwyr yn Aberystwyth efallai yn cofio i o’i hamser fel llywydd yr Urdd Myfyrwyr yno) ysgrifennu tamaid barn ddiddorol ar gyfer Wales Home, o’r enw “Time for Radical Solutions”. Yno, mae hi’n cynnig fod y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol yn edrych i drosi’r Western Mail i fod yn gwmni sy’n cael ei ariannu yn gyhoeddus (gyda’r modd i sicrhau annibyniaeth y Papur), wedyn gadael i’r cwmni cael ei werthu allan mewn rhai blynyddoedd.

Mae’r tamaid wedi denu llawer o sylw (BBC News – Western Mail could be taken over by government, says AM, Golwg360 – Galw ar y llywodraeth i gymryd y Western Mail ac ar Twitter), ac mae’n ymddangos bod o wedi llwyddo i ddechrau’r drafodaeth ar y pwnc – fel oedd Bethan eisiau gwneud. Mae barn pobl yn amrywio ar y pwnc, gyda Trinity Mirror (perchnogion y Western Mail) yn dweud “no comment” (wedi ei fyrhau), i rai sy’n gofyn beth ddylid rôl y llywodraeth bod yn y byd y cyfryngau a’r newyddion.

Dwi’n bersonol ddim yn credu bod hi’n iawn fod y Llywodraeth yn cymryd drosodd papurau newydd (hyd yn oed gyda gwarant i sicrhau annibyniaeth olygyddol). Da ni di gweld o’r blaen fel mae’r BBC wedi cael ei gyhuddo gan wleidyddion o bob lliw am ffafrio un ochor dros y llall (yn enwedig gan y Ceidwadwyr). Mi fysa’r syniad o fod yn bapur newydd y Llywodraeth yn anodd ei anwybyddu, ac efallai fydd gohebwyr yn poeni bod nhw’n mynd i godi gwrych y bobl sy’n talu nhw. Hefyd, gan mae hi’n fyd bach yn y cyfryngau yng Nghymru, fysa’r WM wedi rhedeg stori am S4C yn brwydro gyda Phrifysgol Cymru os bod aelodau’r tîm rheoli hefyd yn eistedd ar dîm rheoli S4C?

Os bod chi’n gofyn i fi, dwi’n meddwl bod WAG angen rhoi cic fynnu pen ôl y Western Mail trwy ddefnyddio ei grym i hybu a datblygu cystadleuaeth. Mae rhai fel Wil Stephens yn cynnig bod WAG yn creu cronfa i fuddsoddi mewn cwmnïau newydd, yn hytrach na chymryd drosodd hen rhai (sy’n syniad dwi’n cytuno gyda). Hefyd, fel mae Huw Marshall yn cynnig, di’r Western Mail ddim yn union yn bapur ar gyfer Cymru i gyd (dwi’n tueddu i gytuno, o’n mhrofiad i mae’n tueddu fwy tuag at De Cymru). Mae’n rhaid dweud bod y syniad o greu cwmni newyddion dros Gymru yn syniad reit ddeniadol.

Mae’r Western Mail yn gwmni sy’n dal i wneud elw. Beth mae’r perchnogion angen yw cystadleuaeth. Mae dechrau cwmni newyddion yn ddrud dros ben (costau staff, caledwedd, cyfreithiol ayyb), ac allan o allu y rhan helaeth o bobl… Ond, os fysai WAG yn helpu i greu cwmni newydd, fysai ‘ny yn rhoi ysgytwad i’r farchnad, a fysa rhaid i’r cwmnïau yn y farchnad addasu er mwyn sicrhau ei dyfodol. Fysai aelod newydd o’r farchnad yn gallu casglu gohebyddion o’r papurau bro a’r we i greu rhywbeth newydd, a fysai rhaid i Trinity Mirror gwneud rhywbeth i gadw lan.

Felly, dylid WAG cymryd drosodd y Western Mail? Na… ond bysant nhw’n gallu helpu gwneud nhw (a’r farchnad yng Nghymru) lot yn well.[/cy]

[en]So there’s been some interesting debates going on in Wales recently after Bethan Jenkins AM (those of you who are ex-Aberystwyth students may remember her from her time as Guild President) wrote an interesting Op-Ed piece for Wales Home, called “Time for Radical Solutions” in which she advocates that the Welsh Assembly should look to convert the Western Mail into a publicly funded company (with editorial protection similar to that of S4C), then letting the company be floated a few years later to be a private company again.

The piece has drawn a lot of attention (BBC News – Western Mail could be taken over by government, says AM, Golwg360 – Galw ar y llywodraeth i gymryd y Western Mail and on Twitter), and seems to have achieved Bethan’s aim of stirring up a debate. Opinions vary from Trinity Mirror (the owner of The Western Mail) saying “no comment” (i’m paraphrasing) though to discussions on the Government’s role in media.

I personally don’t think it’s the Government’s place to be taking over media properties (even with guarantees of editorial independence). We’ve seen in the past how the BBC has drawn fire from politicians of all sides for editorial bias (particularly from The Conservatives). The perception that it’s a ‘Government’ paper would be difficult to shift, and journalists might feel weary of biting the hand that feeds it. Also, given the seemingly incestious nature of media in Wales at the moment, would the WM have ran the story about S4C’s battles with University of Wales if members of its board were also sat on S4C’s?

If you ask me, WAG should be looking to put the boot up the Western Mail’s backside and using it’s position to encourage and foster competition. Wil Stephens suggests that WAG should be looking to set itself up with a seed fund, and investing money in starting up new ventures, rather than taking over old ones (a sentiment I share). Huw Marshall also points out that the Western Mail isn’t exactly an “all Wales” property (I tend to agree, from my experience it’s almost entirely a South Wales affair). So the notion of setting up an ‘All Wales’ news organisation is quite appealing.

The Western Mail is still a profitable (if dwindling) business. What its owners; Trinity Mirror (and S4C for that matter), needs is some competition. Starting a news organisation is expensive (staffing, legal, hardware et al), and is well beyond the means of most… But if WAG helped to introduce a new player and disrupt the market, broadcast and print media in Wales would be forced to innovate in order to maintain market share. A new player could gather journalists from local papers and bring in the best of the Web’s talent and provide a new service, and Trinity Mirror would need to do something to keep up.

So, should WAG take over the Western Mail? No… but it can help us to make it (and media in Wales) much, much better.[/en]

About bryns

Gîc Cymraeg Defnyddiwr Mac Podledwr a ffotograffydd Welsh geek, Mac user, Podcaster and Photographer
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