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Our third annual Index of the independent news sector.



This year’s Index is the result of in-depth surveys taken by 100 small independent news publishers across the UK, predominantly working in text-based formats.   

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Key findings include: 


  • Publishers see themselves as having more social impact than last year. Asked ‘to what extent does your organisation make a contribution to society?’ on a scale of 0-100 the average publisher scored itself at 68pts. 

  • Social media follower numbers – and email newsletters – are booming across the sector. And across nearly all platforms. 

  • Average revenues are up nearly 20%, but there’s a big difference between for-profits and non-profits. 

  • Advertising revenue is a greater proportion of revenue than last year, with grant revenue down.  

  • Within advertising revenue, publishers are doing more direct selling to clients, relying less on programmatic ads and much less on government advertising. 

  • Revenue is strongly correlated to website user numbers and social media followers, especially Twitter followers. 

  • Inflation is biting and publishers say ‘there is nothing left to cut’. Several report a risk of having to abandon print editions. 

  • Staffing is changing: there is less reliance on volunteers and publishers employ fewer people overall but more full-time equivalents (i.e. existing staff are paid for more hours). 

  • Publishers are optimistic: they perceive little competition, especially in high-quality local news. They’d like fair access to government advertising to help boost their sustainability. 

  • In-person events are back after the pandemic – publishers hope to run local focus groups, community newsrooms, local training and workshops. 

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


The report also features first-person accounts from publishers and highlights inspiring stories of impact. 


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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