A UK Government investigation into the sustainability of ‘high-quality journalism’ has released a rather depressing snapshot of the state of regional newspapers across the country.
The Cairncross Review, launched in response to a decade-long decline in print circulation and advertising revenues, is expected to report early next year. But ahead of a call for evidence, it released a preliminary study detailing the declines.
– Advertising spend, excluding digital, has fallen by 70 per cent, from £4.6bn (US$6.1bn) in 2007 to an estimated £1.4bn ($1.8bn) in 2017
– The number of full-time print journalists has fallen by over 25 per cent since 2007, from around 23,000 to 17,000 in 2017.
– A quarter of all regional and local newspapers have closed completely in the past decade.
The leader of the review, Dame Frances Cairncross, has explained that it needs to explore ways to ensure that consumers a decade from now have access to high-quality journalism. “This review is not about preserving the status quo,” she said.
That’s good, because the status quo described in this study is a nightmare.
The Cairncross Review is focusing on newspapers, but I’m sure a 10-year study of the UK magazine market, most magazines markets, would look fairly similar. Circulation down, advertising revenue down, headcounts down.
But what about independent magazines?
Against that gloomy background, I’m not sure whether headlines touting the ‘Resurgence of independent mag publishing’ are uplifting or simply rubbing salt in the wound.