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A very happy New Year for local news: The Media Roundup

Survey shows people more likely to trust local news produced on patch – and willing to pay average of £1.30 per month

“People say they’re willing to pay for content” is hardly a reassuring headline to be opening 2022 with. The gap between what the public say they’d pay for and what they actually pay for has caused many publishers headaches over the years. But this is my top story today because it’s one of a few really interesting local news stories to have come out over the holidays.

Of those surveyed, 43% said they would be willing to pay some amount (£1.30 on average) for local news. This will be encouraging to local start-ups like the Manchester Mill, which celebrated reaching 1,000 paid Substack subscribers with a special 15,000 copy print run. Yes, you read that right.

Add in to this mix a handy list from Poynter published yesterday about the 50+ local newsrooms that have launched in the US, and a (smug) manifesto from Axios about its Local drive. It looks like the conditions are coming together for some really bright opportunities for local news start-ups; something we’ll be exploring in our first episode of the year.

By dropping its paywall for a day, the FT lost out on subscriptions but found new, engaged audience

When the publisher offered its online content for free during COP26, anonymous traffic grew by a quarter, registrations tripled, and new subscriptions fell by 12% on the day. This is a fascinating look at the pros and cons of dropping a hard paywall, and what the FT team has learned from the experiment.

Facebook Podcasts – a coding error means it’s not as big as you think

In that dead zone between Christmas and New Year, Podnews was hard at work probing Facebook’s podcasting metrics. It turns out that ‘something odd’ was going on and the platform was making many bogus partial downloads (bad engineering). This piece digs into what’s going on, and why you need to ignore numbers from Facebook if you aren’t with an IAB-compliant podcast host.

New print magazine launches more than doubled in 2021

“The new print magazines are becoming more like a collector’s product. They’re the only thing left in media that’s not disposable,“ said Samir Husni of the 122 new magazines which launched last year. This included Grazia USA, which hit magazine stands with a 400-page folio. Oddly, there were also 14 new sex magazines; a category that had more or less disappeared over the past decade. Husni theorised that this was because people are seeking privacy again.


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