Local and regional print newspaper sales are declining as more people are accessing their news online. Can these legacy products survive in an ever-changing marketplace?
In this dissertation, I will be looking at where these newspapers have come from, where they are now, and their position will be going forward. I will look at the impact of a variety of consumer choice, in terms of wider accessibility of news from a variety of sources. These outlets will include, but not be limited to, television, radio, social media, hyperlocal and solely online products.
Local and regional newspapers are in a state of flux, with titles going weekly, merging or closing, and with a decline in number of physical copies sold. In a world where news is at the touch of a button for the tech savvy population, this leaves printed newspapers battling for an ever shrinking audience. Major media groups own hundreds of local and regional newspapers and are investigating ways to serve the audience, but ultimately if a product is loss-making, its longevity becomes compromised.
Details of the research
My research will be conducted in a variety of ways, including face to face interviews, contact via email and telephone, reading academic journals and books, and finding any published data, relevant to the field.
My preferred way of primary research is to conduct interviews with the source, which, if the subject allows, will be recorded either by audio or video, so that I have material that I can refer back to.
In speaking to my primary sources, I am aiming to document opinions as to what can be achieved to continue to serve the readership in the future.
Secondary sources will be used to assert any argument and/or make a balanced case for a future proposal for the local and regional newspaper industry.
Raw data will be collected and analysed to demonstrate any decline in sales within the timeframe, and the increase in availability of news sources.
In my opinion there are several potential outcomes to this research. It could be argued that the decline is one that cannot be stopped and eventually there will be no mainstream regional and local newspapers in print, but it can be demonstrated that new print newspapers have appeared recently.
By interviewing a range of academic sources, journalists, and publishers, and a breadth of research, in the United Kingdom and around the world, will allow me to compare the situation across a variety of countries, looking at best practice to take the industry forward.
The research that is to be conducted, will take place over a period of several months and will be strictly controlled by the use of proven project management methods.
I am currently developing Gantt charts to tightly manage the finite amount of time that I have available for the myriad of research avenues.
In addition to this, I will use mind mapping tools, Gerard Egan’s Skilled Helper model and keep a file of all notes, communications and ideas, both on and off line.
I will be adhering to all academic deadlines set, with a buffer to allow for unforeseen circumstances.
I have already identified a number of academic sources, industry experts, published works and books to research over the summer in preparation for my final dissertation.
This list is not exhaustive and I am aware that as I conduct my research, different avenues of study will be presented.
- Clare Cook – Senior Lecturer in Print and Online Journalism – UCLAN
- Marie Kinsey – Professor of Journalism Education – Sheffield University
- Paul Bradshaw – Reader in Online Journalism – Birmingham City University
- Alison Gow – Head of Digital Innovation, Trinity Mirror
- Alan Rusbridger – Head of The Scott Trust, owners of Guardian Media Group
- Roy Greenslade – Guardian Journalist
- Greg Hadfield – Brighton Hyperlocal developer
- Talk About Local
- Steve Hewlett – BBC Radio 4
- Raymond Snoddy – BBC /Sky News
- Janet Shields – General Secretary – British Association of Journalists
- Michelle Stanistreet – General Secretary – National Union of Journalists
- John Whittingdale MP – Minister for Culture, Media and Sport
- Jesse Norman MP – Chair of for Culture, Media and Sport select committee
- Jason McCartney MP – Member of for Culture, Media and Sport select committee
Over the last few weeks, I have looked at research papers and published books that could be relevant to my research. By starting this now, I feel that I have the maximum possible time over the summer to conduct a thorough investigation of the subject, which will allow me to start writing within the agreed timescale.
My reading list is not exhaustive, and will organically grow as the research continues.
- The Future of Journalism – Bob Franklin
- Beyond News:- The Future of Journalism – Mitchell Stephens
- Future of Journalism in Advanced Democracies – Geoff Ward
- News:- Evolution or Revolution – Andrea Miller
- Value Creation and the future of News Organisations – Robert G Picard
- The British Newspaper Industry – John Hill