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Our second annual Index of the independent news sector



This year’s Index is the result of in-depth surveys taken by 72 small independent news publishers across the UK, predominantly working in text-based formats.  

Our analysis reveals new insights into the size, shape and economics of the sector.  

For the first time, we also look at the social impact of these publishers – how are they improving their communities? And what’s the difference between the non-profit and for-profit publishers who make up the sector? 

Key findings include:


  • The revenue of a typical publisher is £31,000 – and there’s a big difference between for-profits and non-profits. 

  • Advertising is still the foundation of revenue for independent news publishers – mostly via direct sales. Different kinds of news mobilise difference sources of revenue. 

  • Publishers in our sample reach 39m people per year via their websites alone. Of those producing a print newspaper, total circulation is nearly 300,000.  

  • Most independent news publishers cover a broad range of news topics within a tightly defined local place. The smaller the area covered, the smaller the revenue.  

  • The staff at independent publishers are not yet representative of the UK population, with women and ethnic minorities underrepresented. More than half of publishers say they’re making efforts to serve diverse audiences. 

  • Independent publishers make a big difference to the communities they serve – and to democracy. Publishers say they increase civic engagement, increase public debate and inspire more people to be involved in public life, among other things.  

  • Publishers face significant challenges around revenue, staffing, costs and the social media giants. 

  • Amid rising demand for high quality local news, publishers have high hopes for the future. They see opportunities to build trust with communities that feel far from economic or political power.  



We’ll be blogging more from the report over the summer. 

Many thanks to all the publishers who took the time to complete the survey, as well as our researchers: Dr Clare Cook of the University of Central Lancashire and Dr Coral Milburn-Curtis of the University of Oxford. 


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