Print Newspapers Media

Theresa May to review health of local and regional newspapers, including digital ads


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

February 6, 2018 | 3 min read

Prime minister Theresa May has announced her intent to review the state of the UK’s newspaper industry amid a period of noted decline in print circulations.

Theresa May poses with parliament's female MPs

Theresa May poses with parliament's female MPs / @Number10gov

Speaking in Manchester, the PM outlined that the review will look into several fields, including the decline of "credible" news sources on the regional and local level. Dubbing journalism as a "force for good", she stated that the review will look at the uncertain future of the press.

Of particular note to advertisers is the planned investigation into “the operation of the digital advertising supply chain including funding flows and its role in creating or reducing value for publishers”. With the likes of Buzzfeed and Mashable proving the difficulties of capitalising on scale to drive profit, May’s review will look into the current funding ecosystem.

Furthermore, it will look into ways to tackle ‘clickbait’ and low-quality news, with an eye to undermining any commercial incentives.

Finally, the way in which news publishers use consumer data will come under the microscope. May dubbed it an “examination of how data created or owned by news publications is collected and distributed by online platforms”.

May outlined the objectives of the study as follows: “[Journalism] is a huge force for good. But in recent years – especially in local journalism – we've seen falling circulations, a hollowing-out of local newsrooms, and fears for the future sustainability of high quality journalism."

Applauding the move, the NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet, said: "Quality journalism is at the heart of a healthy democracy - as Theresa May has rightly acknowledged today. It helps to keep people informed, combats fake news, holds those in power to account and promotes community engagement.

"The media industry is in crisis today, more than 300 local newspapers have been closed in the past decade and more than half of all parliamentary constituencies do not have a dedicated daily local newspaper. We have consistently highlighted the severity of this situation – our local communities deserve better. Hollowed-out shells of titles are no substitute for properly-resourced titles, with real investment in the provision of news and information that communities are crying out for."

The decline of print has been long coming, and most brands have yet to find a suitable monetization strategy to fully replace it.

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