What you need to know

Regional/local newspapers continue to struggle as the industry faces print circulation declines, job losses and closures. Publishers are putting extra investment into developing their online products in terms of content, format, advertising and paywalls in order to best compensate for the decline of print.

Only 11% of consumers currently read local digital newspapers, however, the industry can tap into the potential interest among younger consumers by making online formats more engaging and relevant for this generation. Some 19% of 16-24s who read local papers are interested in paying for digital editions.

Away from the multitude of regional/local newspapers experiencing fairly severe declines, there is one success story in particular, the London Evening Standard. While the Evening Standard has locational advantages that other newspapers do not have, its resurrection after going free should give other newspapers pause for thought over whether the free option could be a route to take once circulation has dropped to an unprofitable level.

In terms of monetising digital content, more regional/local newspapers are implementing the metered paywall. However, with the success of paywalls for national newspapers still inconclusive, the reluctance of readers to pay for digital content and the availability of the BBC’s regional coverage suggest that regional/local newspapers may be facing an uphill battle when it comes to paywalls. The last year has seen many interesting launches in terms of digital content, with more apps designed to better utilise the smartphone and change the manner in which regional news is consumed. More work is also being done to produce content that is easily ‘shareable’ and appeals to Millennials.

Covered in this report

For the purposes of this report, regional newspapers are defined as non-national mornings, evenings, weeklies and Sundays, whether paid for or distributed free. A loose distinction is made between local and regional newspapers.

Regionals are normally published daily (for instance, the morning Eastern Daily Press or the Manchester Evening News) and cover a specific region/urban centre.

Locals are usually published weekly or, occasionally, bi-weekly and their coverage is more geographically restricted but the distinction is not a formal one.

The term ‘the regional press’ is usually used to cover all non-national newspapers (including regionals and locals, as defined above).

The terms ‘circulation’ and ‘distribution’ refer to the number of copies of a newspaper that are sold or otherwise delivered to consumers. ‘Readership’ refers to the number of consumers who read a newspaper, which will be higher with the addition of pass-on readers. ‘Unique browsers’ refers to the number of individuals who visit a particular website in a given period.

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