Why local news matters and why we are making important changes to our website

Why local news matters and why we are making important changes to our website

By Andrew Mosley | 09/03/2020

Why local news matters and why we are making important changes to our website

THE Rotherham Advertiser is proud to have brought news to the people of the borough for more than 160 years.

We are about democracy, providing a platform for the population we represent to voice their opinion, holding local authorities to account when our readers don’t believe they have been served well.

We have always been an active part of our community, and you have always supported us in return by buying and reading our newspaper. Through campaigns such as Fighting Fit and Cash For The Community we fight for better services and even provide the money to fund them. Who else in Rotherham attends council meetings, courts and inquests on behalf of everyone? We have always provided a public service that otherwise would not exist in Rotherham.

We intend to keep doing so for decades to come, and to help we are introducing some changes which will improve our service to you, and which need your support.

We are going to start publishing much more of the newspaper online, adding to the limited news feed we have right now. We’ll include many more of our longer items, highlighting planning applications to local authority wrong-doings, court cases, details of what’s going on in the local sports scene and our exclusive weekly columns.

In return we’ll be asking for a small fee when you access those premium articles. Not a subscription, you’ll only pay when you read.

The price will be just 20p for a premium article, with a maximum of 40p per day. That means after you read two paid articles, you have unlimited access for the rest of the day. A bit like a cover price. The more read, the better value you get.

If you don’t read any premium articles, you won’t pay a penny – so it’s up to us to do a good job of writing the pieces you want and value!

Of course we won’t be charging for everything. Small pieces about overnight bin fires, for example, and breaking news that affects us all about traffic or police incidents, will all stay free.

Why are we doing this?

We still sell more than 15,000 copies of the Advertiser — read by more than 40,000 — every week, and, including our free papers the Record and Weekender, print over four million papers a year. But the simple world of 1858, when the paper was born, has changed a lot. You don’t have to pick up a printed paper to read any more, and a lot of you naturally choose to read the limited news feed we provide on our website and Facebook. You have told us you would like to see more of our content online and we want to be able to deliver it to you.

However, online news doesn’t make anywhere near as much revenue as print output. It costs money to produce, but readers receive it free of charge. This creates obvious challenges to our ability to carry on serving the community is the way we – and you – would want.

We will be using a new secure system, called Axate, which allows readers to top up an online ‘wallet’ to read those premium articles. It’s really simple and quick to get started. The money you put in your wallet stays there until you’re ready to spend it. You only have to sign up once and then it’s completely automatic. It will even work automatically on other Axate-enabled sites as well.

The income it generates will help us sustain and build on our commitment to quality journalism at a time when the reduced number of advertisers supporting the paper alone does not fund this.

This move will enable us to continue the fight to make Rotherham’s voice louder.

It may be that this move won’t be popular with everyone, so I wanted to fully explain our thinking. When you sign up you can be safe in the knowledge you are helping quality, sustainable journalism and that the money we make from this won’t be going into the pockets of shareholders.

Click here to read the Axate frequently asked questions.

Andrew Mosley, Editor, Rotherham Advertiser