A survey has shown the number of people prepared to pay for news online in the UK has more than doubled in the past year.
In a report on the state of digital news, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that the percentage of people paying for news online had risen from 4pc to 9pc in the past year – and that in the 25-34 age group, 20pc had done so.
The findings could provide hope for the regional newspaper industry as it seeks a way of monetising digital content to replace declining circulation revenues.
Only one regional publisher, the Carlisle-based CN Group, has so far declared an intention to introduce online paywalls, although others including Johnston Press have experimented with the idea.
The report’s author, Nic Newman, said the survey “offers some signs of hope for those investing in original news content.”
The survey found: “In the UK, we have seen a significant jump in the percentage paying for news since our last survey – from 4pc to 9pc paying for some kind of digital news in the last year.
“In terms of who is prepared to pay for digital news, older groups are most reluctant to pay for digital news, with 25–34 year olds the most willing to do so across all of our countries.”
In the UK, the figure in the 25-34 age group is around 20pc, compared to around 5pc in the over-45 age range.
The survey’s findings are sure to add to the growing debate within the regional press industry over how to make news pay.
Robin said he has not decided when to put up a pay wall at his titles, but added: “I am fairly certain it’s going to come.”
This week’s report by the Reuters Institute follows an earlier report by analysts Simon Kucher and Partners on the trend towards paying for news online.
It predicted that 90pc of online content set to be behind paywalls within three years.