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Futureproofing local news: State of the market

In this first episode, we look at some of the historical context around the state of local news, shifts in the UK and European markets, and what ‘good’ local news might look like.


Few areas of publishing have been battered more strongly by the headwinds of digital media than local news. The conflict between scale and meaningful local coverage has meant businesses have struggled to replace print profitability with anything close to significant revenue streams in digital. Yet in recent years, we’ve seen some publishers really find their footing, from legacy titles who have successfully undergone digital transformation, to many start-ups which have risen up to fill the information gaps in their communities.

As part of a special four-part podcast series, supported by the Google News Initiative, we’ve been talking (well, Peter has!) to publishers and experts across Europe who are working to find resilient business models. We spoke to them about the state of the local news market in their regions, how they’ve evolved company culture and practice, and what tools and trends they’re working with to prepare for the next decade.

In this first episode, we look at some of the historical context around the state of local news, shifts in the UK and European markets, and what ‘good’ local news might look like. We also do a deep dive into some of the issues facing the UK local news market, as well as the continuing value of local news to communities.


Mirror publisher’s boss warns print titles could become loss-making in five years

Reach chief tells staff to face ‘inconvenient truth’ over print but says digital will stabilise profitability

This headline was beautifully juxtaposed with another article in Pocket, our shared article pool. “Print Prospered In 2023, On Track To Repeat This Year”, its neighbour read. Now one is newsprint, the other is magazines, so I won’t draw any facetious comparisons, but it did amuse me. Also (drily) amusing is this quote from chief exec Jim Mullen: “The user experience is really straightforward, we are ad funded. I am as disappointed as anyone else that people don’t really want to pay for our content online. Not enough of them, nowhere near enough of them.”


Some publishers are starting to see revenue lift from alternative IDs

Alternative IDs like UID 2.0 and RampID are starting to produce measurable revenue lift for some publishers.

Here we are with some good news. Some publishers are recording a 200% increase in CMPs in tests of Unified ID 2.0 compared to ads served to an audience with third-party cookies present. Lots of experimentation with other ID solutions ongoing though, as this piece from Digiday outlines.

How will the third-party cookie switch-off affect you? Are you testing any cohorts or other ID methods? Join the discussion on our community forum.


Intensive AI training by FT Strategies and GNI open for applications

The Artificial Intelligence Launchpad Programme promises to teach eight news publishers how to optimise audience engagement and content monetisation through AI

FT Strategies and the Google News Initiative have launched a new five-month intensive programme to help news publishers build an AI-driven newsroom. The Artificial Intelligence Launchpad Programme will take on eight publishers, learning from AI use cases at each stage of the content lifecycle, from audience engagement to monetisation. You’ve got until 1st February to apply, if interested.

More from Media Voices


Inflation increases pressure on newsprint, but magazines still find niches

Economic turmoil has accelerated print decline, but magazines are eyeing shorter runs and reduced frequency as an opportunity to cash in on scarcity.


The local news revival gathers pace, but even the brightest sparks hit bumps

In a growing number of spots, local news isn’t just surviving: it’s thriving. But the picture hasn’t been so pretty for others over the last 12 months.


What kind of idiots still make magazines?

Joanna Cummings and Peter Houston discuss new B2B print title The Grub Street Journal, from inception to monetisation, challenges and more.

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