LONDON: An independent review into the state of high-quality journalism in the UK has released evidence that overall press industry revenues have declined by more than half over the past decade.

Although newspapers’ digital revenues have grown over the past ten years, total revenues from circulation and print advertising have dropped from nearly £7bn to just over £3bn, according to the Cairncross Review.

Chaired by Dame Frances Cairncross, the inquiry is investigating the financial sustainability of the UK news media market, particularly the press industry, and aims to deliver a full report for the British government by early 2019.

In the meantime, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) released detailed initial findings from research firm Mediatique, and supported the Cairncross Review’s call for evidence from industry practitioners.

On top of the dramatic decline in print revenues over the past decade, the research found that the number of frontline print journalists has dropped by more than a quarter from about 23,000 in 2007 to 17,000 last year.

In addition, the study indicated that more than 300 regional and local newspapers have closed since 2007, representing a quarter of the total number of titles.

Citing data from the AA/WARC Expenditure Report, the DCMS highlighted that total press advertising expenditure, excluding digital, has declined across the national and regional/local press by 70% in the last ten years – from £4.6bn in 2007 to £1.4bn in 2017.

Taken together, the research suggested that significant changes to technology and consumer behaviour are posing problems for high-quality journalism – and that the trend could make itself felt across society as a whole.

“This review is not about preserving the status quo. We need to explore ways in which we can ensure that consumers in ten years’ time have access to high-quality journalism which meets their needs, is delivered in the way they want, and supports democratic engagement,” said Dame Cairncross, chairwoman of the review.

“This call for evidence enables all those with an interest to contribute their knowledge and views so we can build the evidence and make impactful recommendations to move forward,” she added.

Also commenting, DMCS Secretary of State Matt Hancock said: “Our fearless and independent press plays a vital role in informing citizens and is one of the foundations on which our democracy is built.

“At a time of dramatic technological changes and with our institutions under threat from disinformation, we need this clear-eyed view of how high-quality journalism can continue to be effectively produced, distributed and consumed.”

The DCMS findings mirror those included in new research by WARC, published yesterday, which focuses on the state of global print and digital publishing. June's Global Ad Trends report finds that publishers' revenues have dipped $28bn worldwide between 2012 and 2017.

Sourced from DCMS, Cairncross Review; additional content by WARC staff