A new year a new vision

Talking Wales

News distribution has evolved over the years, news was primarily distributed through oral tradition. Storytellers and messengers would travel to convey information to communities.

The invention of writing enabled the creation of manuscripts and later newspapers. This marked a significant advancement, allowing news to be documented and distributed more widely.

The introduction of radio broadcasting in the early 20th century allowed for the near-instantaneous transmission of news to a broad audience. The advent of television further transformed news distribution. Television news programs, with their combination of visuals and audio, became a dominant source of information for the public. The news could be broadcast in real-time.

The rise of the internet in the late 20th century and the subsequent growth of digital media have had a profound impact on news distribution. Online news websites, blogs, and social media platforms allow for real-time updates and instant sharing of information.

Before this, newspapers were the main source of news and opinion along with additional information about entertainment and sports content which is now readily available digitally.

The widespread adoption of smartphones has made news consumption more personalized and portable, particularly via Apps and the emergence of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has further transformed news distribution. News organizations use these platforms to share breaking news, while individuals can quickly share information, contributing to the rapid spread of news and sometimes misinformation.

The business model remained constant for many years, companies employed journalists to generate news content, the content was then sold to the public in the form of newspapers with additional revenues generated from the advertising the papers carried.

The collapse in newspaper sales since the turn of the century, combined with the dominance of the internet, along with news businesses’ failure to pivot from print to online have led to a crisis point for the industry. They decided, in the main, to give their content away online for free in return for digital advertising revenues. Those digital revenues have never come close to replacing the money made from the combination of physical newspaper sales and the advertising they carried.

Some newspaper publishers have, in some measure, succeeded in transitioning from print to online by selling subscriptions. To succeed they have had to create value in their content, people will pay for quality analysis and reporting.

Whilst a section of the industry has gone down the quality route, the majority have gone down the quantity route. What does this mean?

To generate income, they are reliant on generating page views for their websites, it’s not about the quality of the content it’s about the number of people who look at a web page. I know from my time overseeing The National Wales that public interest news, in the main, do not deliver page views in large numbers.

Many news websites display their “most read” stories on their homepages, this confirms what people are viewing on those sites. To generate the maximum number of pageviews news publishers will demand their journalists publish a quota of articles and they will be given monthly targets with bonuses based on pageviews.

Everyday news publishers will hope one of their numerous published pieces will fly, whilst the accumulative page views generated from the sheer volume of content generated will help deliver daily targets.

But the fact that journalists are working to quotas and targets, chasing numbers, means that genuine public interest journalism is diminishing day by day.

And there’s more.

Audiences for news have fragmented just as news distribution has done. People no longer have a go-to newspaper; fewer people are visiting news websites. Radio, social media, newsletters, Apps, and news are coming from several sources, but few of these are coming from Welsh sources that’s why we’re proposing something different, from both a distribution and business model perspective.

News, by its very nature, is constantly evolving, in both the short and long term. That’s why our service will stem from our radio coverage, broadcasting live three times a day, morning, afternoon and evening at launch, with our hours extending over time, we will be able to lead the news agenda in Wales, talk about the issues that matter and follow those stories as they develop throughout the day, sharing those stories to our website and via social media with an emailed newsletter at the end of each day.

We will be funded by the public through subscriptions, for just 23p a day you will enable our journalists to report on the issues that matter in Wales, at a national and local level daily. Posing the questions to those in positions of power and influence on your behalf, to raise awareness with a wider Welsh public ensuring Welsh citizens are better informed and able to make decisions at the ballot box armed with facts and making sense of what can appear to complicated.

You will also have the opportunity to support our work and have a say in how we operate by buying community shares in Talking Wales. Community shares are regulated by the FCA, they do not increase in value, but they do attract a modest amount of interest annually.

As a cooperative organisation shareholders will have a say at our Annual General Meeting, and we will publish an annual report and accounts providing transparency.

With the Welsh Labour Government choosing a new First Minister to replace Mark Drakeford soon and with a general election happening at a UK level later this year and the next Senedd elections taking place in just two years, on Thursday the 7th of May 2026, the need for our service has never been greater.

Huw Marshall

Founder Talking Wales

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