For many years the business model of news companies was simple, sell as many newspapers as possible and the advertising they carried between their covers.
For many years it worked, it was a licence to print money for owners and shareholders of these companies.
Then along came the internet.
As the illustration below demonstrates print newspaper sales are in terminal decline.
But that’s only half the story.
In one of the worst business decisions in history, they started giving away their online content for free. Why? Presumably, they thought newspaper sales would continue with a modest rate of decline and that digital advertising would become the new golden goose.
They were wrong on both accounts.
Newspaper sales declined at a manageable rate throughout the noughties, then they fell off a cliff. We have a great example of this in Wales in the Western Mail, in 2007 it was selling more than 40,000 copies a day, and by the end of 2022, it was selling just over 6,000 copies.
Today their Wales Online website attracts around 28,000,000 visitors a month, slightly more than their sister site The Liverpool Echo but fewer than their other sister site Manchester Evening Post, two cities with populations of around 500,000.
Print still generates around half of most news businesses’ revenues, whilst revenues generated from digital advertising have remained static for several years.
The pressure to deliver page views in numbers that will satisfy advertisers is pushing publishers away from their original purpose, to deliver the news. News, particularly important news classed as public interest news, politics, planning, health, and education simply don’t deliver the required numbers so they’re resorting increasingly to content driven by SEO – Search Engine Optimisation.
This is the direction of travel for companies that have shareholders and owners to satisfy.
Fewer public interest news stories, more articles about cryptocurrencies and chip shop reviews.
That’s why we’re creating a new model for news in Wales and a new approach to delivering news.
Firstly, we won’t exist to make a profit for shareholders or owners.
We have set up as a Community Benefit Society, a cooperative company that reinvests all profits generated for the benefit of the community it serves. In our case that’s the citizens of Wales, investing in more journalists and filling the numerous news black holes in Wales.
A company that you can take a stake in and have a say in how it’s run. As a cooperative, you can be a co-owner of Talking Wales and have full voting rights at our annual general meeting. Your investment will allow us to provide a high-quality, independent, impartial public interest news service serving the whole of Wales.
We’ll be delivering news across a range of platforms, digital radio, podcasts, the internet, social media, e-mail newsletters and occasionally in print. We’ll be using social media as publishing platforms, so you can get the latest news from Wales without having to click through to an advert-laden website.
We’ll be organising in-person and online events, allowing you to hear from and question policymakers and experts in their chosen fields.
Your investment and subscriptions will allow us to provide a genuinely public interest news service, news and information about the subjects that matter, national and local government, politics, education, health, transport, the environment, farming, and culture.
Your investment and subscriptions will allow us to provide a genuinely public-interest news service without the need for publishing sensationalist content written specifically to drive traffic to a website.
Your investment and subscriptions will allow us to provide a genuinely public-interest news service, one that holds legislators at local and national levels to account along with those vying for election and power. Sharing news from Senedd committees and local authorities.
Your investment and subscriptions will allow us to start a national conversation about the future of Wales, discussing ideas that can make Wales a better place to live for all its citizens, giving you a voice and a say in its future.
We’re creating a company and service that can offer a genuine alternative to existing services in Wales, many of whom provide news from an English perspective, ignoring devolution when discussing issues impacted by it.
We’re creating a company that will create fourteen jobs, across Wales, at launch, with more journalists employed as we grow.
We’re creating a company that can deliver a real impact, scrutinising Welsh Government spending, updating on the progress of promises made in party manifestos, and making sense of things that can appear complicated at first look.
With your backing and support, we can launch our service in 2024 ahead of the next UK general election and the next Senedd election two years later in 2026.
We’ll be sharing details of our community share issue soon. If you’d like to be kept updated drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Founder – Talking Wales
If you would like to support us as we work towards our launch, you can make a donation below.