• Cover price rises of regional newspapers accentuated decline in sales as digital media grew between 2006-2016

      Bowyer, Richard; University of Derby (Association for Journalism Education, 2020-07-29)
      The decline in the regional press traditional wisdom asserts has been firmly placed at the foot of the rise in the number of people moving from newspapers and reading news online for free. While this is not disputed, this paper will show that cover price increases have in recent years been higher than in previous years and that a correlation exists between these larger than usual increases in cover price and the acceleration of decline in newspaper sales. The findings indicate that a vicious circle has been created in which budget shortfalls have prompted higher and faster price rises, which have driven down sales, leading to further shortfalls as falling circulation also leads to falling advertising revenue. Historically, newspapers put their cover price up by 1p to 3p a year or held the price in an attempt to keep sales high, an obsession of regional newspapers. For example, the Sheffield Star cost 32p in 2000 and did not increase in cost until 2005. In 2011, with the battle to keep readers a lost cause, regional newspapers decided to use cover price to help finance its business and the same newspaper which cost 47p rose in price to 60p by 2012, a percentage rise of 28.2 per cent. The smaller increases often led to a sales decline, but the policy of bigger cover price increases had a far greater detrimental effect on sales, accentuating a larger decline in sales than previously experienced. Using data from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), this paper maps the increasing price rises to the increase in declining sales.
    • Where Have All the Stories and Voices Gone in Local Newspapers? The Effect Falling Advertising Revenues and the Rise of the Web Have Had on English Regional Newspapers

      Bowyer, Richard; University of Derby (Athens Institute for Education and Research, 2021-10-07)
      The regional newspaper industry in the UK is in freefall with sales down more than 60 percent in 10 years. With this decline has come cost-cutting. This study looks at how these cuts have manifested themselves in terms of the number of news stories now being printed in newspapers and the number of local people being quoted in the newspapers. The study has looked at a number of regional newspapers across 30 years to show the effect of the changing face of the newspaper business as the audience and advertising have moved online. The research includes interviews with experts on whether story count mattered and if fewer stories and local voices have damaged the product. This paper finds that generally newspaper companies with a web-first culture have been forced to reduce their local news content in their printed products as they concentrate their resources online. While fewer stories and voices cannot be blamed for the complete demise of the newspapers, it is a consequence of cost-cutting and disadvantages the product. Opinions do vary on the needs for high story count, but this paper shows that most experts believe it is important and that without it, printed newspapers have been damaged.