CV crisis puts 3 out of 4 UK independent news media at risk of closure

Regulator’s survey shows 75% threatened by pandemic

A new survey of independent news providers in the UK has shown that three out of four are at risk of closure because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Between 23-26 March the Public Interest News Foundation (PINF) surveyed independent news providers regulated by IMPRESS, the UK’s only Leveson-compliant press regulator, in partnership with the Independent & Community News Network (ICNN) and Bureau Local.

53 outlets responded to the survey – and 94% of respondents said that they expect the crisis to have a ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’ impact on their organisation.

Other results shows that:

  • 75% say the crisis might result in temporary or permanent closure
  • 80% do not have insurance that covers the challenges they now face
  • 65% do not believe that the Government recognises the role of journalism in responding to the crisis or is doing enough to help the sector right now

Independent news providers include a wide range of local, hyperlocal and regional newspapers and websites, alongside non-profit investigative journalism organisations and publications that are aimed at BAME groups or communities of interest.

Many in the sector expressed particular concerns about:

  • the loss of online advertising
  • the suspension of print distribution, with knock-on effects for advertising
  • the loss of income from donations and subscriptions
  • the suspension of complementary business activities

One publisher said:

It’s utterly devastating. We are watching the 14 years of hard work and dedication we’ve put into building this publication and bringing change to news reporting in our area fall apart in front of our eyes in a matter of weeks.

Respondents highlighted the lack of clear or detailed communication from the Government, including confusion about whether they qualify as ‘key workers’ for the purposes of travel and childcare.

42% believe that they do qualify as key workers;29% believe they do not qualify as key workers and 29% don’t know.

The survey also shows that more than 60% of independent news providers are going beyond traditional journalism in their response to the crisis. For example, they are providing direct support to vulnerable citizens, organising and promoting online events, coordinating volunteering and working with local businesses to provide online information about home deliveries.

Among the new left media publications regulated by IMPRESS are Evolve Politics, Novara Media, the Canary and SKWAWKBOX. If you can afford to do so without hardship, please consider supporting one of them or of the other excellent left sites.

If that happens to be SKWAWKBOX, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here for a monthly donation via GoCardless. Thanks for your solidarity.

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  1. OUr local papers are only fit for making compost or back up when the supermarket runs out and as they’ve stopped being around for the eventuality they are redundant as agents of the state. Hope the left online media survive

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