“It’s a sad day for Wales”.

You must be sick of reading those words by now.

The people who’ve lost their jobs don’t really feature in this sentiment, their own personal tragedies - and losing employment during the cost of living crisis is a tragedy on an individual level - are collateral damage in the journey towards building the mythologised Shangri-la that is… an Independent Welsh Media.

Like the way the words 'it’s a sad day for Wales' become abstract and meaningless through their repetition, the same could be true of the words 'independent Welsh media'.

What does the current news and media landscape look like in Wales? Where is it likely to go? Does any of it matter as long as we still have the BBC?

The most obvious loss to Wales on the closure of The National is the loss to media plurality. You can count on one hand the number of Welsh news outlets, and due to stretched resources at them all, they each provide a different function within the structure that is the Welsh media landscape.

Reality is a social construct. By which I mean that what’s real is what people subjectively experience and then agree upon as existing.

If you can see a tree over there, and I can see that tree over there, that means there's a high likelihood of there being a tree over there.

We all want different things from different parts of our media. No outlet should be serving the same function as another. Rather than consuming from a single source, the discerning citizen should be able to pick and choose between news sources and use their critical thinking to piece together those different presentations of objectivity in order to come to a decision on what’s actually happening.

With the closure of one of those outlets which provided a reflection of reality in Wales, Wales as a nation loses a small part of its existence in reality.

The National’s strength was its alternative voice. Other outlets can let people in Wales know that their local by-pass road is closed this morning, or that somebody that you had no idea existed said something bad about something you love, but The National made investigations and analysis its focal point.

From a personal perspective, I have always loved writing, and have written opinion pieces for over a decade as a hobby, but when I was inspired to write about my heartbreak when a cultural critic that nobody beyond BBC4’s audience would know about slagged off the Welsh language, there was only one place I wanted to publish it.

Rather than just reporting on the story that “MAN SAYS BAD THING ABOUT WALES”, I knew that The National would be the natural home for a piece I had written about who Jonathan Meades was, and why what he’d said was such a shock.

This is just one example, but it illustrates the strength of what The National was.

Whether The National was offering articles about historical coal tips, racial issues in a Welsh context, or digging up forgotten stories from history, that uniqueness that The National provided was in content that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in Wales. And it was being produced by people who didn’t fit the mould of any other Welsh media outlet.

Wales has an incredibly advanced media compared to most other parts of the UK, with high quality TV, online and radio services in two languages.

Modern Wales, according to the great historian John Davies, owes its existence to the BBC - the country’s cultural uniqueness was entrenched by the establishment of BBC Wales in the twentieth century.

Publicly-funded institutions in Wales are the norm. There’s very little in the way of private media ventures on any scale that enjoy sustainability without public money. Because of this there’s a natural tendency for our media to become institutionalised and conservative. 

Nobody at The National had a face that fits that institutionalised Welsh media landscape - for example nobody in Wales can say that they know who our parents are. It’s why this loss hurts. We fought to be heard, but it wasn’t enough.

I’m grateful to The National for allowing me to take my first steps on the journey to becoming a journalist, and giving me the opportunity to change careers when I was offered a job as a reporter for Corgi Cymru. My journey will continue there, and I hope that any readers follow their favourite writers to wherever they find their new homes.

At the end of the day, it’s the stories which draw readers to a news source.

At a time when people will find ways to criticise anything online for a myriad of abstract reasons, it’s worth remembering who was responsible for writing the stories and for bringing alternative voices to The National.