The original New Media Wales project led to the establishment of The National Wales, sadly it became a victim of the deepening economic crisis that has seen subscriptions in digital services decline and advertising revenues fall.Margins in business are fine, The National, a news start up launched on the 1st of March 2021, was growing at a rate that would have delivered profitability, alas at the beginning of the year the cost of living crisis took its toll, subscription growth slowed then reversed as the public started facing difficult financial choices.
With little or no sign of the economic situation improving in the coming 18 months losses could not be justified or sustained, the end was inevitable.
The worsening economic situation combined with massive increases in costs, the cost of newsprint has doubled since the beginning of the year, will place increased pressure on the local news titles that currently serve communities in Wales.
The industry is likely to retrench to their centres of operation in order to try and create efficiencies, this will lead to fewer titles in Wales, fewer journalists working in Wales, and less accountability at both local and national levels.
The economy won’t just shape the future of news in Wales, the nature of news production and consumption is changing, rapidly. People are not reading news online, not in the numbers you would hope and expect. As existing titles fight to maintain and increase the page views required to generate declining ad revenues we will see less news and more content designed specifically to drive traffic.
The lessons learnt from The National have been numerous and those insights are being put to good use.
The Daily Mail and The Sun remain the most popular newspapers in Wales and perhaps even more significantly BBC Radio 2 the most popular radio station.
The news we consume in Wales is designed for UK audiences and by default ignores devolution and the issues that affect the day-to-day lives of the people living in Wales.
This has to change.
So how do we change it?
Building a new national news service, one that is fit for purpose for the coming decades, needs to be developed at scale, it needs to be rooted in Wales and owned by the people. It needs to be able to deliver services at hyperlocal, local and national levels, it needs to work collaboratively with the existing news community in Wales.
It needs to be open and transparent, reporting objectively without fear and at all times based in fact.
The ongoing cost of living crisis will create further challenges to the businesses currently providing news services in Wales, it will also create an opportunity for a new kind of news and media business to fill the void they will inevitably leave.
If this is something you believe in and want to see become a reality, sign up as a supporter today.