#UK #localmedia #journalism
Local journalism is vital to democracy, enabling people to hold local government and public services to account for decisions that can affect their everyday lives. It can also help to build community cohesion, support local economic activity, and provide an entry route into journalism as a profession.
Yet hundreds of local newspaper titles have closed in the past two decades. News publishers’ traditional print revenues have collapsed as people increasingly read news online. The smaller audiences for local news make shifting to digital business models based on online advertising or subscriptions particularly difficult. Despite this, in this inquiry we have encountered many new local news publishers with a variety of innovative business models, demonstrating that the sector has a sustainable future if it is properly supported to adapt to the new market.
We examine existing support for local journalism, including the BBC’s Local Democracy Reporter Service, initiatives by the big tech platforms, and the revenue from statutory notices. While these forms of support are welcome, they are not enough to stop the decline of local journalism. We call on the Government to fully implement the recommendation of Dame Frances Cairncross’ Review and establish an innovation fund for news. We also recommend that the Government explore ways to make it easier for local news publishers to achieve charitable status, and to encourage more philanthropic funding into the sector.