It has been a rather depressing couple of weeks as the financial impacts of Covid-19 took its toll on the Welsh media landscape, projected job losses at the BBC, Reach and Newsquest will clearly have an impact on the delivery of news in Wales, this at a time when the need for news at a local and national level has never been greater.
It is worth noting that the job losses are not all front line journalistic positions, many are going in sales and back office departments as companies attempt to make ends meet whilst facing up to the reality that local businesses, who provide the bulk of their advertising, will not be in a position to return to the level of ad spend they were investing prior to the pandemic, as they themselves fight to save and rebuild their own businesses.
Some have stated that the Pandemic merely accelerated the decline of print media, and that its demise was always inevitable. Yes, casual physical newspaper sales have declined year on year, but during the pandemic some titles who offer delivery have seen a rise in demand. A question also needs to be asked about the quality and relevance of the
product currently available, particularly amongst a younger generation.
A subscription based service
The National in Scotland is an example of a news start up that has bucked the trend by embracing a sustainable business model. The newspaper gives them a visible brand, but it is their subscription model for both their print and digital output that has allowed them to develop a sustainable and growing business.
This month they passed the 11,000 subscriber point. 11,000 people who are willing to pay £6.99 or £9.99 a month for an advert light national news service.
By building a subscriber base they can invest in Scottish journalism. This is exactly what we aim to achieve here in Wales.
We will only attract subscribers, supporters, and sponsors by delivering a quality product, one you the audience will value. We need to employ 4 journalists at launch to ensure we can do that, and as we build our subscription we can invest in more.
Developing more than a news service
We want to develop apprenticeships, placing journalists in locations that are currently under served, covering subjects that are underrepresented.
How can we work with hyperlocals in Wales? Help them become sustainable and become part of a national network? How do we help the creative digital industry in Wales? Support innovation and deliver new audiences?
We are not about creating more of the same, we want to create something that can grow, a media platform and business that can help make Wales a better, fairer, and more informed place.
We are almost there thanks to your continued support, and our conversations behind the scenes move us ever closer to launch.
At the end of the day we need to know we have an audience. We have over 230 supporters currently contributing monthly towards the costs of those 4 journalists, over 3,000 followers on Twitter and heading towards a 1,000 following on Facebook.
Our final step will be to gauge the level of subscription a national news service like the one in Scotland would attract, what kind of levels of subscription you would be happy with? This will allow us to complete the final piece of our business plan and get us to that launch day.