Bad news for Yorkshire daily newspapers as sales continue to slide

yepfrontcoverSales of all of Yorkshire’s daily newspapers continued to fall in the second half of last year, according to figures released today by the Audit Bureau of Circulation.

Among the biggest losers were two of the three Johnston Press dailies in our region. The Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP) saw its average daily print circulation fall year-on-year by 10.5% to 31,198. The Sheffield Star is down 10.9% to 31,992.

Decline at the third – the Yorkshire Post – was held to 6.4%.

To put the figures in a longer-term context, the YEP has lost over a third of its paying readers (17,866 or 36%) over the past five years (see table below), but still hasn’t worked out a way of making good money through its growing online presence.

And that presence, monetised or not, is growing pretty healthily for both the YEP (up 38% to 38,895 average daily unique browsers) and the Bradford Telegraph and Argus (up 30.7% to 27,847).

Online DOWN at Yorkshire Post

YPonlineReally alarming news for the Yorkshire Post on the digital front, though.

At a time when nearly every other regional paper is seeing growth online, the YP is attracting fewer people (in terms of unique browsers) to its website than it was a year ago (see panel).  

Owner Johnston Press, which announced it was going “digital first” a year ago, will be hoping against hope that that’s just a hiccough, and that the planned re-launch of all its local websites in the coming months will work some magic.

Two questions that occur to me about our Leeds papers:

How far can the print circulation figures continue to slide before more journalist jobs are axed – 19 went last year in an editorial shake-up at the YEP and YEP; and how long will Johnston Press feel it can afford to carry on printing both papers.

Why are you and me buying our local papers less and less?

Former Newspaper Society president Chris Oakley has just given a pretty clear verdict. He was quoted yesterday as saying major regional newspaper groups are engaged in “a stampede to irrelevance”, leaving readers less well informed about what they need, want and ought to know.

Worth checking out. It’s here.

Here are the stats:

statsfeb2013

stats2008-12

statsweb2012

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4 Responses to Bad news for Yorkshire daily newspapers as sales continue to slide

  1. Darren says:

    I think it is important to have a source of local news on the radio, newspaper, TV, and online. But look on a bus at rush hour: in the morning you’ll find people reading the free copy of Metro that is available as they get on to the bus or are sat staring into their mobile devices checking their Facebook feed, browsing through their apps, or, reading content online. I do read local news on the YEP website both on my mobile and desktop browser. The mobile experience is good, while the desktop browser experience is very poor, with slow page loads and pop up ads.

    The only time I have bought a newspaper is when I have left my mobile phone at home and I wanted to read something to make the journey home go quicker.

    As print sales decrease the challenge for Johnston Press will be how do they make money from their digital content. It is a huge challenge, and banner advertising alone will not cut it. Only last week a number of UK newspapers were penalised by Google for publishing sponsored content that had links in which could manipulate the search results. None of the papers you mention though were included in it – but a number of Johnston Press publications were.

    Disclosure: I’m an online publisher based in Leeds.

  2. gardmal says:

    So where are people getting their local news?

  3. Steve Williamson says:

    I do look at the YEP website but (very) occasionally buy the paper and find less and less that I want to read in it, particularly as I am not a Leeds United fan The local press is in a vicious circle – fewer sales, fewer journalists, fewer interesting articles, fewer sales… In an area like Leeds with an increasing number of people producing informative blogs I can’t see how local newspapers will survive particularly in a period with less advertising.

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