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RESEARCH | Three quarters of independent news providers in the UK at risk of closure due to COVID-19

A survey of independent news providers in the UK has shown that 75% are at risk of closure due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Between 23 and 26 March, the Public Interest News Foundation (PINF) surveyed independent news providers across the UK, in partnership with the Independent & Community News Network (ICNN), Bureau Local and IMPRESS. 53 news providers responded to the survey.

· 94% of respondents said that they expect the crisis to have a ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’ impact on their organisation.

· 75% fear this might result in temporary or permanent closure.

· 80% do not have insurance that covers the challenges they now face.

· 65% do not believe that the Government recognises the role of journalism in responding to the crisis or is doing enough to help the sector right now.

Independent news providers include a wide range of local, hyperlocal and regional newspapers and websites, alongside non-profit investigative journalism organisations and publications that are aimed at BAME groups or communities of interest.

This sector is particularly concerned about:

· the loss of online advertising;

· the suspension of print distribution, with knock-on effects for advertising;

· the loss of income from donations and subscriptions; and

· the suspension of complementary business activities, which are a common source of income in this sector.

One publisher said:

‘It’s utterly devastating. We are watching the 14 years of hard work and dedication we’ve put into building this publication and bringing change to news reporting in our area fall apart in front of our eyes in a matter of weeks.’

Respondents highlighted the lack of clear or detailed communication from the Government.

They are particularly confused about whether they qualify as ‘key workers’ for the purposes of travel and childcare.

· 42% believe that they do qualify as key workers;

· 29% believe they do not qualify as key workers; and

· 29% don’t know.

The survey also shows that more than 60% of independent news providers are going beyond traditional journalism in their response to the crisis. For example, they are providing direct support to vulnerable citizens; organising and promoting online events; coordinating volunteering; and working with local businesses to provide online information about home deliveries.

The Public Interest News Foundation is now working with independent publishers and other stakeholders to develop plans for a comprehensive support package for the sector.


About the Public Interest News Foundation

The Public Interest News Foundation is supporting independent newsmakers to tell the stories that matter. At the Public Interest News Foundation, we aim to bring out the unique value of independent news providers of every kind. Through grants, advice and networking, we can unlock their potential to strengthen our democracy.


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