Use It Or Lose It -- The Harsh Warning On Local Media

"Use it or lose it" -- that is the stark warning for readers on local media today from Press Gazette.

With news breaking daily of furloughed staff at newspapers and magazine publishing houses, it is widely feared that many of the local papers that are currently treading water will never relaunch properly.

Hence, Press Gazette makes some interesting calls today. The first one is so obvious that it is just seems a shame it has to be made. Advertisers need to drop this crazy addiction to trigger words they won't advertise against.

Or at the very least they need a whitelist of publishing houses they trust to be writing about in this case, COVID-19, professionally.

It's understandable that brands want to be careful where they are seen. The crazy point is that the papers have never had so much attention they can't monetise because all eyes are on the coronavirus pandemic and that's a boycotted term for way too many brands.

The other interesting point is for the Government to roll out the business rate holiday that was offered to restaurants, pubs and hospitality businesses and apply it to publishers. With so many in such dire straits, there is a real likelihood that far too many areas will emerge from this pandemic with no local newspaper. 

This brings us to another obvious plea. Check out your local paper. Even if you cannot find it when you are shopping for groceries and even if you cannot get it delivered, go online frequently and check it out. If everyone logged on and read the news in their area, it would make a massive difference. 

The Press Gazette request, I think, will most definitely fall on deaf ears is for Google and Facebook to share out the money they earn from selling advertisement alongside news articles.

I have long been of the position that if publishers really didn't want to be shared on social or indexed in Google News, they could could make it so. However, the truth is that they expect massive audiences to flow from search and social.

In my opinion, that means the aggregator is going to get rich -- but at the same time, local newspapers will get traffic they might have otherwise missed out on. You can label it a duopoly and call for change but it's not going to happen. 

However, if advertisers drop the block on COVID-19 stories for trusted publishers and people take time to read their local press, we could just save a few titles from going under. It's unlikely that the Government will give publishers a business rates break, let's be honest -- but at least there are many journalists out there now currently furloughed and being paid by the state.

The Government is helping -- there is no doubt there.

It's really up to us as readers to get reading and for advertisers to get advertising. 

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