The state of journalism – decline or metamorphosis?

Lee Waters outlines the fourth section of our draft Media Audit, on press.

There is no doubt that the world of print and online is going through a period of rapid change.

Since the last IWA Media audit in 2008 the circulation of the Western Mail has fallen by 53%; it now officially sells just 17,815 copies a day, fewer than the South Wales Echo (18,408 – a 60% drop), the Daily Post (24,485 – a 33% drop), and the Evening Post (27,589 – a 46% drop).

But, all is not lost. Online journalism seems to be flourishing. Wales Online has an impressive daily audience of 257,813 unique users, the Daily post 75,570 and the South Wales Evening Post 56,433.

The BBC does not publish figures for daily access to its online news site but reports 3,480,000 unique users of its English language site and 89,000 on its Welsh language site.

IWA Wales Media Audit

Monday: Read Lee Waters’ introduction to the IWA Wales Media Audit

Tuesday: See section 1 of the draft Wales Media Audit in full here. 

Wednesday: Read the Wales Media Audit’s findings on Radio in full. 

Yesterday: See the Wales Media Audit’s findings on internet. 

Today: Read the full draft report on the Press.

But as Ceri Gould, editor of Wales Online concedes, “Making assumptions about the robustness of the journalism we produce simply by looking at the numbers of papers we sell is clearly ridiculous”.

The number of journalists has fallen significantly in recent years as free content has been voraciously consumed, but the advertising revenues that have paid for the journalism declined. That has not stopped many of the publishing companies posting healthy profits, but the nature of the journalism has inevitably had to alter to adapt to the rapidly changing environment.

“Journalism in our newsroom is more vibrant, more dynamic, more inclusive than I have ever known it” Wales Online editor Ceri Gould argues in a column responding to an earlier draft of the latest chapter of the IWA Media Audit that we are publishing for comment today.

“Our objective remains the same as it always has been; to tell the most important stories in the most engaging way to a local, Welsh audience. We are a business and our survival relies on our ability to deliver quality to a local audience”.

“Life is tough here in the commercial world and the need to deliver what our audience wants to read has never been more crucial and we have never had such fierce competition. We are not frogs not realising that the water is getting hotter. We have done nothing but adapt, change, experiment, learn new skills over the last decade and we foresee nothing but such constant change” Ceri Gould adds in a robust response to the early IWA draft.

The section you can now read here has been updated to take into account many of the valid arguments that she advances. That is why we have published our report in draft – we want people in the industry to add their insight and data to enrich our initial judgements.

Let us know what you think about the Draft Wales Media Audit by emailing [email protected], ahead of the Cardiff Media Summit on November 11th.

Lee Waters is Director of the IWA.

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