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March 27, 2018

Some 40 UK local newspapers closed in 2017 with net loss of 45 jobs, new research shows

By Arun Kakar

There was a net loss of at least 30 local newspapers last year, new Press Gazette research has found.

According to Press Gazette’s tally this puts the net loss of local titles since 2005 up to 228.

A total of 40 newspapers closed while ten were newly launched in the 12 months from 1 January to 31 December 2017.

The figures are based on reports of title closures and launches on both Press Gazette and Hold The Front Page.

There were also a number of cuts to newsroom staff in 2017, with our research showing that at least 252 jobs were axed, but about 207 jobs created, leading to a net loss of 45 jobs.

Job losses and gains were calculated based on maximum expectations reported at the time.

New jobs include the 150 BBC Local Democracy Reporter roles created to plug the so-called “democratic deficit” caused by cuts and closures in the local press.

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Trinity Mirror closed more titles than any other publisher, with 12 shut down in total over the year.

The collapse of family-owned Observer newspapers last April led to the closure of all of its 11 titles.

Newsquest launched seven newspapers, more than any other publisher.

But it closed the Sale & Altrincham Messenger and the Stretford & Urmston Messenger, which were merged into the newly launched Messenger newspaper in December. 

Other papers to close include the 160 year-old Oldham Evening Chronicle in September (later relaunched as an online-only title in February after being bought out by Credible Media).

Press Gazette reported in 2016 that some 198 UK local and regional newspapers had closed since 2005.

The new figures brings the total number of local paper closures, from the beginning of 2015 to the end of 2017, to 86.

Since 2005, 148 newspapers have launched and 379 have closed.

Local newspaper CLOSURES in the UK from 1 January to 31 December 2017 (in order of publisher):

Title Publisher  Frequency
Kent on Sunday Archant Weekly
Westminster &Pimlico News Capital Media Newspapers Weekly
Kensington and Chelsea news Capital Media Newspapers Weekly
Fulham Chronicle Capital Media Newspapers Weekly
Shepards Bush Chronicle Capital Media Newspapers Weekly
Oldham Evening Chronicle (relaunched as website) Hirst, Kidd and Rennie Daily
Cleethorpes Chronicle Independently-owned Weekly
Beverly Guardian Johnston Press Weekly
Hemel Hempstead Gazette Johnston Press Weekly
Berkhamstead & Tring Gazette Johnston Press Weekly
Hemel Express Johnston Press Weekly
Sale & Altrincham Messenger Newsquest Weekly
Stretford & Urmston Messenger Newsquest Weekly
Kidderminster Express and Star Midlands News Association Daily
Amargh Observer (FREE) Observer newspapers Monthly
Amargh-Down Observer Observer newspapers Weekly
Ballymena Chronicle Observer newspapers Weekly
Dundalk Advertiser (FREE) Observer newspapers monthly
Dungannon Observer Observer newspapers Weekly
Fermanagh News Observer newspapers Weekly
Lurgan and Portadown Examiner Observer newspapers Weekly
Mid Ulster Observer Observer newspapers Weekly
Newry Advertiser Observer newspapers Weekly
Democrat (Sunday) Observer newspapers Weekly
Ulster Farmer Observer newspapers Weekly
Barnet Press Tindle Newspapers Weekly
Enfield Advertiser Tindle Newspapers Weekly
Haringey Advertiser Tindle Newspapers Weekly
Beverly Advertiser Trinity Mirror Weekly
Surrey and Hants Star Courier (FREE) Trinity Mirror Weekly
Bristol Observer (FREE) Trinity Mirror Weekly
Bedfordshire on Sunday Trinity Mirror Weekly
The Ely News Trinity Mirror Weekly
Haverhill News Trinity Mirror Weekly
Newmarket news Trinity Mirror Weekly
Canterbury Times Trinity Mirror Weekly
Whitstable times Trinity Mirror Weekly
Herne Bay Times Trinity Mirror Weekly
Faversham Times Trinity Mirror Weekly
Wirral News (FREE) Trinity Mirror fortnightly
Total: 40

Local newspaper LAUNCHES in the UK from 1 January to 31 December 2017 (in order of publisher):

Title Publisher  Frequency
Hemel Hempstead Gazette and Express Johnston Press Weekly
St George & Redfield Voice Local Voice Network Monthly
Thornbury Voice Local Voice Network Monthly
The Messenger Newsquest Weekly
Eastleigh Times Newsquest Weekly
Oldham Times Newsquest Weekly
Darlington Despatch (Revival) Newsquest Weekly
Warrington Post (FREE) Newsquest Weekly
The National Monthly Newsquest Monthly
The Post (FREE) Newsquest Weekly
Total: 10

Looking at overall circulation figures for the year for those titles audited by ABC (not all titles are audited), not one regional publisher experienced circulation growth on the previous year.

Trinity Mirror remains the biggest regional publisher, with a total circulation of 1,598,285 across its 129 local publications.

Newsquest was the second largest publisher with a total circulation of 1,344,379 across its 118 publications, but this does not include its acquisition of Carlisle-based publisher CN Group in February.

Even if the group’s circulation figures were added in, Newsquest would still be some 100,000 copies behind Trinity Mirror’s overall figure.

Trinity Mirror and Newsquest own more titles than any other regional publisher. The total number of titles for every other UK regional publisher combined is 129.

The National Union of Journalists have warned of a new “duopoly”  in UK local media run by Newsquest and Trinity Mirror, following a number of buyouts.

The biggest losses in circulation were felt across Midlands News Association dailies and Archant dailies, which slumped 14 and 15 per cent year-on-year respectively.

Only the Johnston Press non-daily segment showed growth out of the nine publishers. The Scotland on Sunday- its only audited regional non-daily title- grew 1 per cent year-on-year.

Publisher  Frequency  Total overall circulation Year-on-year % change  Total no. of titles
Trinity Mirror Daily 435,604 -13% 25
Trinity Mirror Non-Daily 1,162,681 -11% 104
Newsquest Daily 236,815 -10% 19
Newsquest Non-Daily 1,107,564 -10% 99
MNA Daily 70,779 -14% 2
MNA Non-Daily 364,086 -7% 13
Scottish Provincial Press Daily N/A
Scottish Provincial Press Non-Daily 78,873 -13% 17
Kent Messenger Daily N/A
Kent Messenger Non-Daily 134,805 -9% 14
Johnston Press Daily 154,983 -9% 13
Johnston Press Non-Daily 16,289 +1%  1
DC Thomson Daily 120,078 -10% 4
DC Thomson Non-Daily 40,416 0% 1
CN Group Daily 13,4465  -21%  3
CN Group Non-Daily 60,678 -9% 5
Archant Daily 59,198 -15% 4
Archant Non-Daily 731,045 -9% 52

Picture: Pixabay

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