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Local news is booming | Economist – News


“SSometimes we turn around We’ll drop in at the crime scene in front of fire trucks and ambulances, “said Darren Toogood, editor of Island Echo, an independent news site on the Isle of Wight. The “Tipper” army shares information about sirens and suspicious activity in a dedicated Facebook group. The threads they produce are often thrilling. Tracking at 5 am after a police helicopter led to the kidnapping. Another tip found a London gang stealing a shotgun from clay pigeon shooting range.

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Declining advertising revenue and competition from social media mean that local newspapers have been working to sustain life for years. Approximately 265 people were closed between 2005 and August 2020. Today, most survivors are owned by conglomerates. Reach owns at least 111 digital and print titles (in addition) mirror, A national tabloid) closed four free treatises in 2020. They also launched 19 “live” websites, each with a similar layout. The site was viewed nearly 15 billion times in 2020 and two-fifths of 2019.

Former local journalist Tom Baldwin has written a book about the crisis of democracy and what he sees, including the decline of local newspapers. This “news factory model” ignores their most important mission, he says: retaining the power to explain by covering court hearings, council meetings, and more. As long as this is still done, it’s often due to small, sometimes amateurish, independent outlets. Survey by Public Interest News Foundation (PINF) Found 200 independent publications published on July 8th with sales of less than £ 2m ($ 2.8m). The median of the 56 staff members surveyed was only 3.

Most are online only and are considered an opposition to the mainstream local newspapers. They are various bundles. The Birmingham Update covers culture: Spice Girls bottomless brunch at a local liquor store. Companies that offer free school meals. Manchester Meteor investigates “local power structure”: bus driver labor dispute. A letter to the mayor about public land. The Cornish staff expresses their local identity. A fisherman who was upset by the decision of the plan. Silver found in the mine. The Wiltshire 999s, which closed in June, focused on crime. One of its last headlines was “The Hammer Used After a Massive Failure at a Toddler’s Birthday Party.”

Competition is particularly fierce on the Isle of Wight. In 2017 County PressThe newspaper 137 years ago was purchased by Newsquest, an American-owned publisher. Last year it sold 15,000 copies a week and had 2.2 million page views in the best month. Without Toogood’s Island Echo, founded in 2012, it might work even better. It is said that there were 2.8 million online page views in the peak month of last year. on the other hand, Observer, The printed free sheet is County Press, Has 18,000 sales per week. Yet another online outlet, On the Wight, offers in-depth research on local scandals and social issues.

Surprisingly, all these retailers claim to be profitable given how much their territory is being contested. This is rarely the case for similar retailers elsewhere. PINF It turns out that the typical annual revenue of people covering niche news and local news is only £ 21,099. Miloperin, the founder of Cornish Staff, says he earns £ 5 a day from advertising and is floated by his wife’s “nice job.” And again, industry integration is at the expense. Wiltshire 999 was closed after founder Daniel Webb was hired by Reach’s new Wiltshire live site. “They found an audience,” says Jonathan Heewood. PINF. “It’s a great step from the printing era, but it’s not paying bills.” ■■

This article was published in the UK section of the print version under the heading “Night Crawler”.

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