Let’s begin…the state of affairs

CIRCULATION of Welsh regional publications is down – all between 6% and 12%. And what is the response? Paper closures and redundancies.

It’s farewell to the Neath and Port Talbot Guardians. Reducing costs is one way of alleviating the problem, but will this stop the rot? No, of course it wont. It’s plastering over a wound which will open once again – be it in a few months, or a year or so. And the next casualty of declining newspaper sales could be a bigger player.

There has been much debate recently about moving from free to pay-to-read online newspaper content. And no doubt I will return to discuss this in another blog. But are the readers who have stopped purchasing newspapers all doing so because the journalism is freely available online? And can it be assumed they will be prepared to stump up the cash and subscribe (or in whatever way charges emerge) for this online content?

Duncan Higgitt, former news editor of The Western Mail, told the BBC’s The Politics Show recently people tell him they are not filled with any great desire to go out and buy these newspapers.

“Sometimes they are perceived to be too London-centric, to be chasing a story that’s been done elsewhere and often done first and better.

“It’s also to do with what’s not being done – like there’s not a huge focus on Welsh affairs.”

Perhaps therefore it is wrong to characterise newspapers as casualties. Instead, shouldn’t they be considered the architects of their own downfall?

I hope to use this blog to consider where the focus is in Welsh newspaper journalism. Are new desks in Wales hives of original and investigative journalism? Or are they recycling news from the other end of the M4?

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