UK local newspaper closures: At least 265 titles gone since 2005, but pace of decline has slowed

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Thirty-three local newspapers have closed in the UK since the start of 2019, according to new Press Gazette analysis.

A further 13 print titles were launched, making a net loss of 20 between 1 January 2019 and 19 August 2020.

The latest figure takes the total net loss of local newspapers since 2005 to 265. That year was considered by many to be the high-water mark of print newspaper profitability in the UK; the economy was riding high, automation had made printing cheaper and broadband internet had yet to cause severe disruption.

This analysis is based on reports of closures and launches across Press Gazette and Hold The Front Page, treating editions of newspapers as separate titles.

Despite covering a period of more than a year, this figure is lower than the net loss of 43 local news titles in 2018 and 30 in 2017.

JPI Media closed the greatest number – 13 – with ten of those closedd at once in June last year. The publisher said no jobs would be lost in relation to the closures, with staff moving to other titles.

This was followed by Reach and Tindle on seven closures each, although six of those at Tindle were from the same Welsh series.

Most of the reports on the title closures did not specify job loss numbers, but from the known figures we estimate a minimum net loss of 27 roles.

Newsquest launched the most titles, with a strategy to open new titles or editions after another publisher has pulled out of a patch.

It created the Vale Journal as a new edition of the Salisbury Journal in May after the closure of Reach’s Blackmore Vale Magazine and launched a new edition of the Bucks Free Press to cover Amersham, Chesham and Little Chalfont after Reach closed its titles in the area early last year.

While our tally concentrates on print titles only, Reach has launched at least 15 regional news websites in expanding its Live network since the start of 2019.

Other notable online-only launches include Archant’s Peterborough Matters in partnership with Google, Iliffe Media’s Suffolk News, and Nub News’ network of 44 hyperlocal news websites with 30 journalist hires.

There was a net loss of 17 local news titles in 2015 to 2016, according to earlier analysis.

Local newspaper CLOSURES in the UK from 1 January 2019 to 19 August 2020

*signifies closure happened since Covid-19 hit the UK

Title Publisher Frequency
The Weekly News* DC Thomson Weekly
The Buteman JPI Media Weekly
Morley Observer and Advertiser JPI Media Weekly
Tyrone Times JPI Media Weekly
Epworth Bells JPI Media Weekly
Hawick News JPI Media Weekly
Selkirk Weekend Advertiser JPI Media Weekly
Worthing Advertiser JPI Media Weekly
Glasgow South and Eastwood Extra JPI Media Weekly
Portsmouth View JPI Media Weekly
Wharfe Valley Times JPI Media Weekly
Hayling Islander JPI Media Weekly
Bucks Advertiser JPI Media Weekly
Thame Gazette JPI Media Weekly
The Lichfield Mercury* Reach Weekly
The Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer* Reach Weekly
Blackmore Vale Magazine* Reach Weekly
Midweek Visiter (Southport)* Reach Weekly
Harlow Star Reach Weekly
Herts and Essex Observer Reach Weekly
Buckinghamshire Advertiser and Examiner (two editions) Reach Weekly
Greenwich Mercury (merged into South London Press) Street Runners Weekly
Glamorgan Gem* Tindle Weekly
Barry Gem* Tindle Weekly
Bridgend Gem* Tindle Weekly
Cowbridge Gem* Tindle Weekly
Llantwit Major Gem* Tindle Weekly
Porthcrawl Gem* Tindle Weekly
County Border News* Tindle Weekly
Yellow Advertiser (since relaunched online) Tindle Weekly
Armagh Examiner* Independent Weekly
Weardale Gazette Independent Fortnightly
Am Bratach Independent Monthly

Local newspaper LAUNCHES in the UK from 1 January 2019 to 19 August 2020

*signifies launch happened since Covid-19 hit the UK

Title Publisher Frequency
The Torbay Weekly* Archant Weekly
Isle of Bute News Argyll Media Weekly
Epworth Times Chronicle Publications Weekly
Heatons Post Independent Monthly
Ilkeston Inquirer Independent Monthly
Vale Journal* Newsquest Weekly
Salford City News Newsquest Weekly
The Northern Echo – Teesside Newsquest Daily
Harlow Guardian Newsquest Weekly
Bucks Free Press – Amersham, Chesham and Little Chalfont edition Newsquest Weekly
Burnley Star Newsquest Weekly
EC1 Echo Social Spider CIC Bi-monthly
Weardale Community News* Weardale Community News Group CIC Monthly

Picture: Pixabay

Comments

2 thoughts on “UK local newspaper closures: At least 265 titles gone since 2005, but pace of decline has slowed”

  1. Archants have avoided the closure of unprofitable titles for far too long,losing money and credibility ,a serious dereliction of duty which has resulted in the dismantling of a once reputable regional publisher
    Their classic example being the once proud and essential Eastern Daily Press a paper which has rapidly become a pale sickly shadow of its once former self limping along the bottom selling only a handful of copies to a region which has,in a matter of 5-6 years, lost interest.
    They’re at a do or die crossroads right now with the choice between investing heavily in revitalising the content to make it more professionally written ,relevant and uniquely localised- or to close.
    Allowing it to continue in its present format with the same personnel in charge who’ve been content to look the other way while the ongoing erosion of quality took place is no longer an option.
    Something for the new owners to put towards the top of their agenda of matters needing urgent and long overdue attention.

  2. Sadly, many ostensibly still-going but severely eviscerated newspapers, such as the Bristol Post and Plymouth Herald, barely cling to existence in credible, meaningful print form.

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