Wave 2 Blog

Hyperlocal newspapers in rude health

Happy New Year! 2016 is set to be another year of opportunity, challenge and pioneering tech development. This is certainly true for Wave2 as we help hundreds of publishers across the world transition legacy business models and replace them with dynamic, automated publishing solutions that generate new revenue streams.

We enter the New Year with a very optimistic outlook. Yes, there are challenges in such a disrupted publishing environment – but for every challenge there is a solution waiting to happen. Moreover, as Gordon Borrell pointed out at our US Executive Forum last October, “print is very much alive and will play a key role in providing the type of products SMBs want to buy”.

As if to prove the point, in last week’s issue of Forbes we came across an article entitled ‘Paper Lions: Why Hyperlocal Newsweeklies Are Making A Quiet Comeback’. Penned by writer Zack O’Malley Greenburg, the article looks at how new hyperlocal newspapers like the Hendersonville Lightning are making a return to the media landscape in the US.

The same could be said for the UK. We wrote last year about The Brighton and Hove Independent, recently purchased by Johnston Press, which went from a standing start in 2011 to over 200 editions, a circulation of 13,000, and 320 distribution points in the city. The business model has since been replicated in a number of cities and towns within the UK, the Hastings Independent being just one typical example.

What’s driving the renaissance of hyperlocal print titles? According to Greenburg, hyperlocal newsweeklies can ‘survive at the bottom’ – the aforementioned Hendersonville Lightning has margins of up to 14% on revenues nearing $300,000, mainly due to small-town ad sales and $45 yearly subscriptions.

Greenburg quotes Max Heath, the National Newspaper Association’s Postal Chair, who says simply, “Papers with thriving retail rural markets are outperforming and growing profits”.

For readers both in the UK and US, the opportunity to read about local news, curated by local people, is also a hugely attractive proposition. It’s made all the stronger because the editors and journalists typically have an affinity with (and passion for) their local community.

We’d like to think that we are also playing our part in the success of many local and regional titles. Our MarketPlace solution, as just one example, is an off-the-shelf classified listings engine that publishers seamlessly bolt-on and integrate into their existing advertising systems network. It allows media owners to offer flexible package options for online classified ads and, in doing so, develop strong new revenue streams.

Finally, from the entire team at Wave2 we’d like to wish all our clients, colleagues and friends a prosperous and rewarding 2016!