Is local press the UK’s most popular print medium?

Despite the claims that local newspapers are becoming a dying medium they still appear to have remained popular among the public, which as we have mentioned before in our previous blogs, reflects on how people care about news concerning their local area.

However, with the rapid growth of social media, smartphones and tablets the internet is increasingly becoming people’s favourite channel for sourcing local news. It has been found that local media websites attract 79 million unique users each month.* So although the public’s interest in local news is not decreasing it appears that their preference for local newspapers is.

Local newspapers may well be the most popular print medium in the UK, read by 30 million people a week, but this does not take other media platforms into account such as local media websites which, according to The Newspaper Society (2014), are increasing in popularity by attracting more than 79 million users each month, and as a result are taking over newspapers as the most popular news platform.

Many people, including myself, will admit to seeking local news from the internet or social media rather from their local newspaper. Online local news articles offer people more as they are interactive, enabling readers to engage with the article by making comments, asking questions and giving opinions. What is more, this allows people who live in the area to comment with up to date information and inside knowledge related to the news report. So, it seems that in this digital age printed newspapers are losing their necessity.

It is true that by the time the paperboy or girl has posted a copy of the local newspaper through my letterbox I have already read the latest updates about my area through my news feed on Twitter. Yet, I personally still enjoy picking up a copy of my local newspaper and reading the whole story in detail – something that you only get with a newspaper!

Newspaper circulation is in decline, and although the loss of local newspapers would have a major impact on many people’s ability to keep up with local news, information and updates, most news providers have websites and social media pages, which provide the public with the most recent updates regarding their local area on a daily basis.

Nevertheless, for many people their local newspaper is the only access they have to news, as many local newspapers are free, and delivered to the public’s door weekly. Whereas, national newspapers and even online news pages charge people for the privilege of having access to news and keeping informed, which can be quite costly. For example The Sun newspaper charges £7.99 per month for an online subscription!

Not to mention, local newspapers have a crucial role in the community providing news that matters to people who live in the local area and as an important advertising platform for small, local businesses. Local newspapers are an important source of reference for people living in that particular area, and without them there would definitely be a decrease in the sense of community.

Local newspapers have always been at the heart of the community, but in our digital world it seems to be local news rather than newspapers that people care about.

So I can’t help but wonder, in a digital world that revolves around technology are printed newspapers becoming obsolete?

* The Newspaper Society 2014

Rebecca Murphy

PR Account Manager

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