Tuesday June 4th: Local media never stopped being important

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Local journalism isn’t just the canary in the coalmine for issues facing the news industry more widely. Nor is it simply a vanishing lower rung on the career ladder for journalists from under-represented backgrounds. It is also, as Social Spider’s James Cracknell makes clear in this call to arms, a lifeline and community focus for local populations who would otherwise be left adrift and unprotected. Cracknell says:

“The profits have gone, never to return. We can’t uninvent social media and smartphones. These things are with us now forever, for good or ill. Local news will never generate anywhere near the revenue it did before the digital age arrived. But local democracy is nothing without local media, and if we value one, we have to support the other.”

While it is a rallying cry for support, Cracknell’s article is also a fascinating look at the realities of keeping local titles with relatively tiny circulations afloat. He cites public notices contracts — which are currently jealously guarded by media companies which, as Cracknell says, often do very little actual local reporting — as something that should be changed to benefit independent local publishers. A fascinating read, really worth your time.

The British Invasion is back! But this time, instead of rock bands like the Stones, the Who, the Zombies etc., it’s a bunch of former Telegraph editors and executives taking over the Washington Post. Robert Winnett, currently the deputy editor of the Telegraph Media Group, is to take over as executive editor. He’ll be working alongside its chief exec Will Lewis — also formerly of the Telegraph — to implement sweeping changes at a financially troubled news organisation (and I don’t mean just sweeping Lewis’ involvement in phone hacking under the rug, either).

Beleagured regulator Ofcom has made a ruling on a 2022 movie available on Prime Video. Why does that matter? Well, as this Deadline article sets out, the recently-passed Media Bill gives Ofcom more power to bring Amazon Prime, Netflix et al into line with regulation of broadcasters in areas such as harmful content and impartiality. Well, if it ever gets its arse in gear around impartiality, anyway.

And speaking of broadcast… here’s a genuinely interesting look at how broadcast channels beset by ad spend declines are looking to fill their unsold air time. ITV launched its Adventures Invest division in 2021, which allows the channel to take minority stakes in companies in return for advertising inventory. It may not seem like much, but it’s an exercise in diversified revenue from an industry that is heavily reliant on ad revenue.

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