Local news: why are you overlooking this media giant?

Local news: why are you overlooking this media giant?

Regional news media has a large audience, is trusted, and is effective. So why does the Government still spend nearly six times more with the tech platforms?

Today, in the week the news industry celebrates its annual Journalism Matters campaign, new audience data from Jicreg, the local news media audience measurement currency, shows that 42 million people read local titles in print and digital every month.

It’s worth taking a moment to reflect on that number. 42 million people.

That’s 77% of the GB population aged 15+ who engage with local news media content at least once a month. It’s an impressive statistic.

In a report on local news media in August, Enders Analysis described the sector’s online traffic as “mind-boggling,” pointing out that these large audiences are highly engaged.

Reach’s local titles alone drive traffic that is larger than Instagram and TikTok, the report added.

These numbers prove that people are hungry for local news and information and local news media is meeting this demand.

A unique, but barely tapped, opportunity

There’s no doubt that the sector has faced its fair share of challenges in adapting to a digital future. But, as Enders makes clear, the sector is innovating to meet these challenges head on, while still delivering its core offering of trusted local journalism.

For example, the industry’s Public Notice Portal, which harnesses the power of local media online to increase the reach of public notices therein strengthening democratic engagement.

The portal was developed by the industry following extensive consumer research and discussions with local authorities and central government, with £1m from the Google News Initiative.

It’s a brilliant example of the sector working to deliver something of real value to its audiences.

Enders points out that the service provided by local news media to democratic society is currently significantly undervalued within the commercial marketplace. As such, the sector offers a “unique opportunity that is only barely tapped.”

Enormous value left on the table

This same thinking is expressed in starker commercial terms in The Bottom Line from Newsworks, which in 2021 found that brands were missing out on £2.7bn of potential profit ROI by under-investing in newsbrands.

And, although the gap is narrowing, brands were forecast to still be missing out on £2bn by 2025. That’s an enormous amount of value still left on the table.

Earlier this year, effectiveness expert Peter Field’s latest analysis of the IPA Databank published by Newsworks found the link between trust in newsbrands and advertiser profit growth had risen sharply over the last decade.

As AI turbocharges bad actors’ ability to create and distribute misinformation, trust — one of local news media’s key strengths — is becoming an even more important driver of brand profitability.

Central government saw the benefits of increasing investment in local news media during the pandemic through the ‘All Together’ campaign.

Yet, despite this case study for news media’s effectiveness, the Government still spends nearly six times more with the tech platforms despite their well-documented problems with misinformation and bad actors.

Who can you really trust?

The latest audience data from Jicreg show that the local news media sector is reaching huge audiences.

We are a highly trusted source for local news and information, and trust is becoming an increasingly important driver of brand profitability.

As we celebrate Journalism Matters this week, I invite all advertisers and media agencies to consider the untapped potential that local media offers to your businesses.

Working together, we can drive success in business while supporting the local journalism which does so much good for communities right across Great Britain.

Danny Cammiade is vice-chair of the News Media Association 

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