The outbreak of global pandemic Covid-19 has made news more essential as people increasingly seek reliable sources of information to remain informed on the spread of the virus. However, the extraordinary measures that have been implemented in many parts of the world, including the UK, have meant that newspapers are facing great difficulty.
For many years before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the UK newspapers market has been facing declining revenues and falling copy sales. This market has been severely disrupted by the growth of social media and prevalence of mobile devices, which have been accompanied by a growth in the availability of free news sources. On the back of this already difficult operating environment, newspapers are now facing the problems that are arising as a result of the virus outbreak.
At the end of March 2020, it was reported by the Financial Times that national print newspaper sales had fallen by over one fifth since the start of the lockdown period on March 23rd. With advice being that people should only shop for essential products and with social distancing measures in place in stores and supermarkets across the UK, footfall has fallen. Meanwhile, digital advertising revenues are taking a hit as companies curb ad spending and ad blockers are implemented to prevent ads from appearing in articles that mention coronavirus.
Newspapers are taking action such as furloughing staff, postponing titles, and cutting pay in an attempt to ride out the crisis. However, while these measures may help in the short-term, in the long-term newspapers will struggle to withstand the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.