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July 26, 2022updated 07 Oct 2022 7:11am

UK local newspaper closures: Launches in digital and print balance out decline

By Alexandra Turner

Thirty-three UK local newspapers have closed since September 2020 but new launches in print and digital outnumber this figure.

Twenty-seven print titles were launched in the same period, making a net loss of six newspapers.

However, for digital publications, three news sites closed while 41 launched, making a net gain of 38 from September 2020 to July 2022.

This analysis is based on reports of launches and closures across both Press Gazette and Holdthefrontpage. Editions of newspapers have been treated as separate titles.

Since 2005 there has been a net loss of at least 271 print local newspaper titles.  The rate of decline has levelled out in the past five years.

The latest net loss of print titles is lower than the loss of 20 between January 2019 and August 2020, and is lower than the net loss of 43 titles in 2018 and 30 in 2017.

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The greatest number of closures came from JPI Media, which has since been renamed National World after its new owner, where 14 titles closed in September 2020. The titles were merged into other papers, and the publishers said at the time there would be no job losses due to the closures. National World closed a further six titles located in Angus county in May 2021.

Newsquest closed five newspapers in East Anglia this month and one in Cambridgeshire. The titles were acquired in Newsquest’s takeover of Archant and a company spokesperson told Holdthefrontpage the papers were “too far gone in their print model” and later that there were "no plans to close further print titles".

One of the titles was Felixstowe Extra, which launched just five months ago. Another was the Wisbech Standard, whose sister edition the Ely Standard will continue in print. Newsquest said all the titles will still exist online.

Reach closed two titles in Warwickshire while Cornish-based publisher Independent Media and Midlands News Association shut one paper each. The remaining three print closures were all independent ventures.

Local newspapers saw an increase in digital news sites and dedicated channels however. Reach continued its pledge to open a dedicated site for each county in England and Wales and launched 19 dedicated local news sites in 2021.

Hyperlocal news network Nub News also continued its local expansion and opened six digital titles. 

Following on from National World's acquisition of JPI Media at the end of 2020, the publisher, headed by David Montgomery, expanded its network of online local brands and launched seven sites covering city regions across the UK.

Reach and RF Publishing both launched four print titles each, with RF Publishing expanding the Asian Standard brand across the North East.

Picture: Getty

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