How do people in Wales keep themselves informed of what’s happening in their communities or at a regional or national level?
Whilst Wales has suffered from a historic lack of national newspapers and news services it has been served relatively well from a local and regional perspective. For many in Wales, their “local” paper will be their link to their community and issues that may well have their origins in the Senedd or Westminster.
Sadly, the decline in the number of those buying newspapers continues to fall year on year, and rising inflation is making the cost of producing and distributing newspapers ever more expensive.
This is illustrated clearly by the rise in newsprint costs, newsprint is the paper newspapers are printed on. These figures are from the USA and the rise in the UK has been even higher.
The industry has responded by reducing pagination, the number of pages in a newspaper. Fewer pages require less content. Cover prices have, in some cases, increased.
Companies have put a freeze on recruitment with staff who leave not necessarily being replaced.
As the cost-of-living crisis deepens companies are cutting back on their advertising spending providing a secondary blow to an industry already facing an uncertain future. This impact is felt disproportionately on local news titles as much of their advertising revenues come from smaller local businesses.
Very few local news services have successfully developed sustainable digital models, converting the daily doorstep delivery into a digital subscription. Instead, they have relied on generating revenues from online and programmatic advertising.
These models generate revenues based on the number of page views; journalists are incentivised with monthly page view targets. A certain number is expected and if the target is exceeded bonuses can be triggered.
It is unfair to expect journalists to be motivated by page view targets, quality not quantity should be the aim of any good news outlet.
Reports on Senedd committees are important for us to understand the efficiency and impact of the work of our legislators, but they don’t generate page views, whereas the contents of “Celebrations” tubs this Christmas do.
Over the coming months and years, we will see less actual news and more content designed to generate page views, this is the commercial reality for news companies during a deepening economic crisis.
So how do we develop a sustainable news business that is all about quality? Reporting on issues that matter? Ignoring the bile generated towards Wales from a predominantly right-wing UK media?
It’s simple. It’s down to you.
We’re developing a sustainable business model made up of a range of revenue streams.
We’ve set up Talking Wales as a Community Benefit Society which is a form of cooperative, this will allow you to own a stake in the business, and we will be releasing details of our initial pioneer share issue very soon.
Being owned by the community we serve will ensure we stay true to our core values, reporting objectively without fear or favour, based entirely on fact and reporting everything from an unashamedly Welsh perspective.
The key component that will ensure a long-term sustainable future is subscriptions. Subscriptions will allow people to invest in the service monthly or annually in return for a certain level of exclusive content. More importantly, knowing that that subscription enables Talking Wales to employ the staff required to deliver a quality service focussed on keeping Welsh citizens informed.
Without you, as subscribers, we won’t be able to generate Welsh news in the range of formats, distributed across a growing number of platforms, reaching as many people as possible. Creating a community of informed citizens.
With your support we can create the Welsh media service Wales deserves and so desperately needs.
Founder, Talking Wales.