Reports of the demise of the local press have been shown to be greatly exaggerated according to an article in today’s Independent newspaper.
Media editor Ian Burrell wrote a piece analysing how the industry has fared since industry expert Claire Enders’ infamous prediction that half the country’s local and regional newspapers would close down by 2013.
Wrote Ian: “A year or so later, the picture is somewhat different. Whereas 60 local newspapers did close during 2009, only eight have gone to the wall in 2010. The UK’s local press isn’t quite ready to draft its own obituary.
“Of the titles that closed last year, nearly all were free weeklies and none of them was a market leader in its community. The regional press is proving hardier than many experts thought.”
“It was never, ever going to happen. Looking forward we would have to close 200 newspapers a year for the next three years for that prediction to be right. It’s completely nutty,” she said.
Johnston Press chief executive John Fry said the worst of the downturn now appeared to be over.
“The rapid drop that we had is appearing to bottom out, which has enabled companies to start rebuilding their profitability. Our profit grew in the first half, and I think that’s true of other companies as well.”
“There has been much greater stability this year. It’s not great but it’s not the threat that appeared to be on the horizon a couple of years ago. It hasn’t really materialised into a doomsday scenario.”
But Douglas McCabe, who works alongside Clare Enders at Enders Analysis said local newspaper companies had only avoided closing titles by slashing costs and cutting margins.
“The real pain is still to come, as publishers move from shaving the existing model to rethinking the model in its entirety,” he said.