NEWSPAPERS are going begging as a result of the move to online news sources. Sadly there have been no takers forcing titles to close and journalists losing their jobs as a result. Newspapers have begun asking readers for donations for online content as the industry falls further into crisis. The Guardian has been asking for donations for some time but now other newspapers are following suit. The Internet has changed the nature of advertising and Google and Facebook now take 60% of the total spend on online advertising leaving newspapers with a big problem.
Two Cumbria based newspapers papers have appealed for people to donate to read content online. The North West Evening Mail is one and the editor James Higgins claims that the paper’s online content is supplied for free. That is questionable by any standards as they would already have been paid for advertising and supplying the print content. It is simply a case of transferring that online. Some may question the appeal for cash from an industry, which has historically ‘had it good’ for so long.
It seems that there are those who are sympathetic to journalists after all. Higgins is also the editor of the sister paper The News and Star and says that hundreds of donors have already contributed and signed up to make monthly contributions.
Newspapers in print have seen the writing on the wall. The Press Gazette reports a net loss of 200 papers since 2005. A study of the local newspaper industry by Bournemouth University Kings College and University of London in 2017 described it as ‘a sector in crisis’. The study claims that 58% of U.K. is no longer served by a local daily newspaper and that 400 journalists jobs have been lost since the start of 2016.
The NUJ has started a campaign ‘Local News Matters’. The threat to newspapers is seen as coming from free and online news sites and social media. Some argue that publishers have not changed in line with the digital media landscape. Profit margins have also been very large and some would say newspapers have been greedy in the amount of profit taken out of the business.
Trinity Mirror is already monetising online content by surveys done through Google. The model has its problems. Reading an article online is frustrating as the pop ups and surveys take over the screen.
Facebook Live, Periscope and Youtube are playing a part in live reporting in the hands of the citizen journalist. Content has become more personal via hyperlocal sites.
Industry observers now say they want subsidies for local journalism. Roy Greenslade professor of journalism at City University London claims that money could be allocated to online outlets which meet public service remit conditions. He believes that the subsidies should come from the likes of Facebook and Google.