The importance of regional media
Posted on February 18, 2021
Recently, John on our team gave a presentation to our clients at Amazon and all the agencies they work with across the UK on the regional media landscape in 2021. It’s a topic close to his heart, so he wanted to go one further and write a blog post about it.
It’s strange that he wanted to write a post that didn’t mention Oasis, David Bowie, Ballymena United or the Berlin Wall, so we’re interested to see how this plays out. Who knew he had other interests?
“Regional media is really, really important.”
As someone who works at a PR agency that specialises in regional media campaigns, you might expect me to say that.
But the regional media IS important, and for more reasons than you might think. Here’s just three reasons why it’s vital.
The thick of it
It’s for the best that I don’t start talking about politics, but regional media plays a really important part in the UK’s political landscape.
Research in late 2020 by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport revealed that a strong local media presence correlated with a higher turnout at the polls when it’s time to vote.
The study found that for every percentage point growth in a local newspaper’s circulation, electoral turnout in the same area rises by 0.37 percentage points.
What does this mean? The availability of local news has a positive impact on people getting involved in local politics. And that can only be a good thing, right?
The regional media is among the most trusted sources of news in the UK. In a 2019 study by Reuters, regional media ranked second in the list of most trusted news sources in the country, second only to the FT. Regional media scored 6.4 out of 10 among the public quizzed for the research.
Reuters examined attitudes on media trust again in the summer of 2020. Regional media fared well once more, with 55% of those questioned claiming they trusted the regional press. Only the BBC (64%), ITV (60%) and FT (58%) scored higher.
Simply put, in an era where trust is impacted by fake news, the regional media remains a trusted source of information. I’d say that’s pretty important.
Not everyone has the internet
I’m 37 years old and can remember well a time without the internet, but the idiot in me just assumed that these days, pretty much everyone had it. I was wrong.
Last year, we helped launch a website for our community in Holywood where people could get help if they were shielding - somewhere to get medication collected, groceries delivered - that sort of thing.
Ahead of the launch, a local telephone company came on board to set up a helpline on the website. When I asked why we needed a helpline, I was told “because not everyone we’re trying to help can access the internet.”
I felt like a right plum. Of course not everyone has the internet. And this fact leads me on to my next point.
Regional media keeps people connected, and never has that connection been needed more than during COVID-19.
The elderly or vulnerable, who have been locked in their homes for a year now, might not have access to local news without regional media. These groups, who often don’t have internet access, would be cut off from society without their local paper or regional radio station. Lockdown restrictions keep people in their homes without visitors, so without the local press, they’d have been cut adrift.
I could go on about the importance of regional media all day. But when you think about it - what else do I need to say? It keeps vulnerable people connected, it helps boost people’s interest in their local politics and it’s a trusted source of information in an age of questionable online disinformation. What more do you need?
Next time you’re in the shop or at the garage filling up, do your community a favour. Buy your local paper. People depend on it.