On 6th February, there was an interesting story to come out of Downing Street, and for a nice change, it wasn’t about the Brexit negotiations. Instead, the headline was Theresa May’s government is to launch a review into the national and local press, with the aim of assessing whether state intervention was needed to preserve the industry.
The far-reaching review will look into how professional journalism can be sustained in the future, with a key focus on the regional press which faces an uncertain future – latest data shows only one-third of local authority areas have a daily local newspaper. The report, due in early 2019, will have a particular emphasis on how content creators are appropriately rewarded for their creations.
This review comes almost 12 months after the last major UK newspaper launch, The New Day, a title that went as quickly as it came. Since then, we have had The Independent, a title that just 10 years ago had a daily circulation of 200,000, call time on its print edition and go to an online-only model. We have had numerous strategic reviews and profit warnings echo out across the landscape, with significant consolidation in the market. The most recent being the £100m+ merger between Trinity Mirror and Richard Desmond’s Express and Star titles (above), showing the need for cost savings.
All Response Media Viewpoint
It is hard to belittle the government’s intentions of sustaining what is a core principle: the free press. A lot has been said recently on fake news and it appears that the government is trying to step up and protect good quality journalism that provides credible information to the public.
For us, any actions, from the state or otherwise, that result in increased press circulations are music to our ears. This is a trusted offline medium where we can target demographics fairly precisely, especially the older audience. 44% of 55+ adults in the UK say they value their local newspaper, so keeping this alive is vital for us to continue to target them. Increasing campaign reach is always key to maintaining channel response especially when running frequently in titles.
However, we will have to continue to watch this space as the inquiry has yet to have anyone appointed to lead it or clarity on how much power they will have. Fingers crossed they can deliver a much-needed boost to the industry!