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Newsquest boss hits out at ‘free-riding’ Facebook

A regional publishing boss has hit out at Facebook for “free-riding” local news content and giving “pennies” back to news providers in return.

In a podcast interview carried out by Media Masters, Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker slated the social media giant for taking advantage of the “huge investment” which publishers put into local journalism.

He also argued that local newspaper remained a better proposition for local advertisers, saying that newspapers and their websites still have a bigger local reach than Facebook.

And he predicted that offering digital marketing services to local business would become an important part of Newsquest’s business in years to come.

Said Henry: “Facebook is building its own audience off the back of news journalism.

“They’re arguably free riding the huge investment that we put into local journalism and we’re getting pennies trickle down in return.”

But he added: “What people don’t know is that Facebook’s reach is significantly less than local newsbrands in the UK.

“Facebook’s much vaunted audience is about 50pc penetration so they say that they reach about 50 per cent of the adults in the UK.

“In York we reach almost 75 pc of the adults every month via our website alone – that’s before you even add in the additional audience we reach through print.

“So if you’re a local retailer in York, wanting to reach people and promote offers and services, then the York Press is a pretty obvious place for you to advertise.”

He went on: “We see an important part of our future as becoming a trusted adviser to local businesses as to how they should do their digital marketing.

“It’s become a pretty complex landscape out there for local businesses, so one of the key elements to Newsquest’s strategy is introducing digital marketing services to those local businesses.”

“We’ve come a long way from being a traditional local newspaper to what will increasingly be a digital marketing company.”

Click here to listen to the podcast in full.


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  • June 11, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    And of course, no lazy journalist these days (or anyone under pressure to manufacture large quantities of clickbait per day) would never rip off Facebook or simply compile a string of posts from other social media to create ‘stories’….

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  • June 11, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Mr Walker is right – Facebook is an American behemoth unethically accumulating cash in a capitalist system that glorifies that very same activity. It’s almost as if businesses are competitive and may the best model win, competition in the raw and no time for whinging losers. This is all jolly unfair. Just ask Mr de Brulay Snr, Coaching Inn Ostler of the Year 1908, about these damned motor car contraptions, depriving good chaps of a living.

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  • June 11, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    I’ve heard some nonsense with the stats in my time but this is getting out of hand.

    Do you really believe that the York Press website reaches 75 per cent of local adults when the paper barely reaches six per cent of the total population of the city? The key word here being ‘local’.

    Stop putting your news on Facebook see what happens to that ’75 per cent’. I think you’ll find that Facebook is keeping your limited digital revenue streams alive and you should be thanking them for it.

    Facebook didn’t build its audience on the back of news. It built it on the back of communities which is what so many local newspapers gave up on during their transition to digital.

    Local advertisers realise that their local newspaper has been ripping them off for years with hideously-priced recruitment ads and various lies about ‘reach’. The ad reps at a daily I once worked on used to tell clients that each copy was read by three people, which suddenly became four when it turned weekly.

    Publishers like Newsquest all jumped on the SEO and social media bandwagon when it suited them to push the limits of their ‘reach’. Now, this reach of tens or even hundreds of thousands of adults from outside the local area are all but useless to local advertisers and they know this.

    Local businesses can now easily target specific local audiences with their products and services at at a fraction of the cost by creating Facebook adverts themselves.

    This is what you’re really peed off about!

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  • June 11, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    “huge investment that we put into local journalism”
    Hugh investment?
    Shurely shome mishtake?

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  • June 11, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    What investment would that be Henry? Newsrooms cut to the bone, no staff photogs or subs, freelance budgets cut. Don’t whine about Facebook filling a void that NQ and others started creating years ago.

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  • June 11, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    Cripes, that Oliver’s got a brain on him. Blistering analysis; digital has made lying near impossible and as ad selling is mainly telling porkies then you quickly arrive at the creek that shall remain nameless minus your timber propellants. Which is where the local press is stuck now – and it stinks.

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  • June 11, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    Ah yes @Oliver, the old “2.7 people read a copy but at weekends it’s 4.0 as there’s tv and property in it too” guff the reps trot out here encouraged by their deskbound managers.
    Business people know the sakes aren’t there and the papers have lost their effectivrss and vote with their feet.
    As for FB hardly a day passed without a junior emailing a FB poster asking for use of a picture so it’s a real case of double standards to point the finger, if anything FB and Twitter are producing stories from the patch the papers wouldn’t be able to cover or even know about.

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  • June 11, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    It always makes me cringe when I read such tripe as “….“It’s become a pretty complex landscape out there for local businesses, so one of the key elements to Newsquest’s strategy is introducing digital marketing services”
    So they’ve made a disaster of publishing so they’ve reinvented themselves as ‘digital gurus’ in a vain effort to grab some loose change by advising businesses where to spend their promotional budget … and we can all guess where that’ll be, yep, with them!
    Unless a businesses is truly independent it’s advice will not be taken seriously, rather like the laughable claim they’ve invested in local journalism.

    Laughable if it wasn’t so embarassing

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  • June 11, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    The slight flaw in the argument is the fact that Newsquest and other media groups allow people to share their content – on Facebook etc!

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  • June 12, 2018 at 10:49 am

    Hang on a sec… I thought some chief exec said last year that Facebook hits was the “new currency”?

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  • June 12, 2018 at 11:23 am

    Norridge. You are right. My local JP rag has no idea what is going on off-diary in its area (it has no locally based reporters). Facebook is its saviour.

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  • June 12, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    And who was it who so eagerly jumped into the shark pool that is the internet, keenly posting Facebook ‘Live’s of anything, churning out clickbait to get meaningless web stats, saying digital was the future, sod newspapers?? Ahh, yes, the management who now complain about Facebook.

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  • June 18, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    I wonder if Harry’s ever heard the one about the pot and the kettle?

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