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Investigating the economics of local newspapers

Deutsch: Karte der Verwaltungsgliederung des V...

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There is a grim certainty that the existence of local and regional newspapers are under threat in the UK and other developed economies. There are no shortage of articles from commentators saying this is generally a bad thing. Northcliffe’s East Kent Gazette is the latest in a long line of closures.

But what are the realities of this situation? Are papers really all doomed? What’s the minimum overheads and revenue you’d need to keep a title going, whether online or in print? Are papers better off in large PLC ownership or should they,  as many have argued recently, return to local, independent ownership? Can’t they exist as online-only titles?

I’m putting together an article (possibly a series) for TheMediaBriefing.com that asks all these questions – but I need some evidence and in the spirit of open, networked investigations, I’m asking for your help:

– If anyone has any information, data or figures on how their local newspaper is run as a business, please get in touch. I’m interested in costs and income. Anonymity and discretion are assured – I won’t necessarily mention the title nor the company. (For the time being I’m just looking at the UK situation).

– Views, opinions and ideas on how to make local and regional papers into viable businesses are very welcome. Think about business models – aside from paper ad sales and coverprice, what could business managers do to build genuine, renewable and reliable revenue streams?

I’ve been gathering some figures so far on this and the results are very revealing – some titles are making healthy profits and have small costs, for example. I don’t think the world needs another “isn’t it sad” style blog post from anyone on this – I’m more interested in data, evidence and what might happen next.

Email me on patrick dot smith at briefingmedia.com or call on 07904587050.

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