I am very much a fan of the internet and I like to get my news online, but what does this mean for our local newspapers? I was just having a little twitter conversation on the subject after Sam posted the lastest readership figures: Daily Echo (Bournemouth) 29,687, -7.5pc. Now that is not good news for the Echo, local journalism jobs, local shops, local delivery drivers, etc etc.

And I am under no doubt that we REALLY NEED to have a local newspaper, As much as the Echo often makes my blood boil !!!, it is often the only way that local people know about what is going on in the council. In other area's where there is no longer a local paper, local councils have made massive decisions whilst local people have been oblivious. In fact what we really need is to have more than one local paper, then there would be some competition!

So we have rapidly declining readership, but that is people going out and paying their 40p for the paper version.  We still have lots of Echo readers, they are just not paying for it!

I long ago stopped buying the Echo when I started reading it online. Often the stories are on the site the night before, I began to notice that when I did buy the Echo maybe late afternoon I would look through it and feel I was reading something really out of date, this was because I was reading something I had read getting on for a day ago online. So I eventually stopped even thinking about buying it.

Why do local papers go to the trouble of producing a newspaper, then providing most of it for free in a way that for many people is also more convenient?
Perhaps to drive people to the website? but to what end? We are not going there and buying something (we are going there and NOT buying!) I am certainly not clicking on any money making links. And how many would each reader have to click on to make online readers a money spinner. Having a look at the 'whats my website worth' website the Echo website is only worth $15,000 dollars, which would be about $5000 dollars per year in potential advertising sales(correct me if I am wrong here of course!)

I cannot see any point in providing content for free on the site. Nor can other local newspapers, The Whitby Gazzette charges £5 for 3 months access to premium content. Thats not bad - I would pay that!

And why not, some commentators say that it would alienate readers, but they are not paying readers! It doesn't mean that there can't be some online content. Photo's, News archive, Teasers to premium content... In fact probably everything except today's (and possibly yesterday's) news.


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