Traffic to Reach’s biggest news websites did not fall significantly on the day of the strike at the publisher, according to figures shared with Press Gazette.
Figures from digital intelligence platform Similarweb show the number of mobile and desktop visits to 14 major brands in the Reach network was steady on Wednesday 31 August, the day of strike, compared to the preceding Wednesdays in August.
On 31 August, a combined 17.3 million visits were made to the 14 sites we looked at, compared to 16.6 million on the previous Wednesday and 17 million on Wednesday 17 August.
Last month, journalists at Reach voted for industrial action after a majority of its NUJ members rejected a 3% pay offer (or £750 minimum) from the company.
A first strike date due on Friday 26 August was postponed for eleventh-hour talks between Reach and the NUJ with the dispute arbitrator ACAS, but the negotiations fell through. A 24-hour strike then took place on Wednesday 31 August, with 1,150 national and regional journalists across the UK and Ireland taking part in the walkout.
Not all journalists at the publisher were on strike, including many at the Mirror where the NUJ is not the recognised union. Mirror union the British Association of Journalists accepted the 3% pay deal, although some staff at the title are understood to have subsequently joined the NUJ.
Of Reach’s more than 100 websites, the 14 in our analysis included the publisher's three major national titles, mirror.co.uk, express.co.uk and dailystar.co.uk, as well as 11 prominent regional or sub-UK sites: liverpoolecho.co.uk, dailyrecord.co.uk, manchestereveningnews.co.uk, birminghammail.co.uk , walesonline.co.uk, chroniclelive.co.uk, mylondon.news, nottinghampost.com, examinerlive.co.uk, lancs.live and bristolpost.co.uk.
The larger sites (by audience size) among this list serve a global as well as UK audience through a UK-based team of journalists.
Although news traffic often takes a dip in the August school holidays, daily data for early September seen by Press Gazette suggests visits on 31 August were not unusually low even when compared to this month.
Similarweb considers a visit to be when a visitor accesses one or more page views in a session. Subsequent page views are included in the same visit until the user is inactive for more than 30 minutes.
The trends at the individual digital properties in our sample were fairly consistent with the group picture.
The number of visits to mirror.co.uk on the day of the strike, for example, was between 11% higher to 3% lower when compared to the preceding three Wednesdays in August.
Traffic to the Liverpool Echo, Birmingham Live and the Daily Record was actually higher on the day of the strike than other Wednesdays in August.
The Daily Star was one of a few exceptions. The site of the tabloid had between 8% to 12% fewer visits on the day of the strike compared to the previous Wednesdays in August, although traffic had gradually been declining throughout the month.
We also looked at page views, an important metric for the advertising-funded publisher, and the data suggests that the same trend holds up.
Combined page views to the 14 sites were not notably lower on the day of strike in the context of August as a whole.
Reach's print newspapers also had to fill pages for the day after the strike. According to the NUJ in Scotland, the Daily Record was largely made up of Daily Mirror content on 1 September.
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said: "There is no doubt the walkout of journalists impacted company business and illustrated the strength of feeling and collective power among journalists calling for the fair pay they deserve. Since the day of action, Reach management have returned to the negotiation table with a revised pay package that the NUJ will put to members in a consultative ballot later this week."
Davison continued: "Quality journalism at Reach is made possible thanks to dedicated journalists committed to their roles and providing the diverse breadth of content audiences have come to expect. The union's growing membership at the publisher, alongside widespread support from members of the public and MPs during strike action last month, has instilled confidence in members taking a stand. The union is focused on achieving a fair pay award members can accept."
Reach has seen a drop in profits so far in 2022 as first-half revenue fell 1.6% year-on-year to £297.4m. Chief executive Jim Mullen is one of the UK’s best-paid media executives, according to a recent Press Gazette ranking.
Similarweb generates its traffic data by applying machine learning and modelling to statistically representative datasets that the company collects. Datasets are based on direct measurement (i.e. websites and apps that choose to share first-party analytics with Similarweb), contributory networks that aggregate device data, partnerships, and public data extraction from websites and apps.
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