In times of crisis we crave news…
It is what we do as humans. We’re all consuming more news than we did seven weeks ago but there’s a problem.
We’re consuming it in a way that is threatening the entire industry. The stories we rely on in which hard working, interrogative journalists have asked the difficult questions and got to the facts are being read by millions. Online. For free.
Critics might say that it’s been going this way for a long time anyway and it’s the future of news, but the reality is that this crisis has accelerated the move to online news and it’s not necessarily that readerships are down; it’s that those who usually willingly buy it aren’t right now. Even those with paywalls have found them suddenly less effective than usual due to the ways that people are sharing news (you only have to think of the uproar around that Times article a week ago).
Advertising and print sales are down so who is paying for the news? This is the challenge faced by media around the globe, and while not surprising, I admit it left me shocked and quite sad to see the Yorkshire Post’s appeal this week.
It is one of the most well read, well respected regional newspapers there is (and I’m honestly not just saying that because it’s on my doorstep though that does mean I can vouch first hand for the quality and some of the incredible first class journalists I’ve had the pleasure of working with for almost last 15 years). That there’s even a question about its survival is so worrying for local news around the UK, which is essential not just for now, but in rebuilding our communities and helping businesses to reconnect with local audiences.
Local and regional news has an important place in the media landscape that cannot be filled anywhere else. It’s where many businesses generate their sales leads, where organisations strengthen their relationships with politicians and stakeholders and where communities are given a voice.
Buying a paper seems like a big ask at the moment; nobody wants to make an unnecessary trip to a shop and we’re all counting the pennies. But if we all spent our usual morning coffee money on one paper each week maybe, just maybe, we could help protect it for the future. So my plea to those who live in communities, villages, towns and cities around the UK is please buy a paper. As much as the UK public loves to complain about the press, trust me you’ll miss them when they’re gone and it’s going to be so much harder for your workplace, the fish and chip shop you love and your favourite clothes store to get back on their feet without it.