Sunday, April 15, 2012

Local news in the age of Internet

In the Saturday 14 issue of the Guardian there is an interesting assessments of the crisis of regional newspapers in the UK. During the last 10 years, 200 publications have folded. At the same time, advertising income has gone down by 50%. Classified ads have moved to the Web and the readership has followed. Prestigious dailies such as the Yorkshire Post or the Scotsman have lost more than half of their circulation. The Yorkshire Post which sold 120000 copies, 20 years ago, sells to day 40000.
In France, the situation is hardly better. The circulation of regional dailies has been going down by 2% a year for the last 20 years. Classified ads have deserted the print support and commercial advertising is not much better.

The big question in both countries and also in the US is:who is interested now by local news? It seems that young people are less motivated than their elders by local events. Even newspapers websites are consulted mostly by internauts above 40. Moreover people can get specific pieces of news on sports or entertainment through Google and dedicated sites. When the print was dominating, readers had no choice but getting their daily to be informed. Now, competition on the Web is boundless. Communities used to be built around the all powefull newspaper. Now, communities grow through the social networks.

It is obvious that the regional newspapers must drastically change their strategy without losing an aged but loyal readership. It means beeing active on Facebook and present on football websites and going on with the print business which brings 90% of their income. A tough job.