Huddle 2018 - Content Hub

From ‘Smallsbury’ Salisbury to Ground Zero

Newsquest CEO, Henry Faure Walker and 1XL Managing Director, Scott Gill hosted an interactive discussion at Huddle.  

The discussion began with an account from former Editor of the Salisbury Journal, Joe Riddle, who recalled his experiences in breaking the Novichok poisoning scandal to the world and highlighted the key role that local news reporting had, and continues to have, during and after this global diplomatic incident. Joe described the feeling in the news room and across Salisbury as the poisoning story emerged, and described the news gathering process that meant the Salisbury Journal broke the story to the world.  

After describing the scenes he witnessed at The Maltings, Salisbury he went on to describe how local media had helped shape the national and global reporting of this sensational story; recalling how other news outlets including the BBC lined up to use the imagery and initial reporting originating in the journal. Joe’s storytelling also reminded Huddle-goers of the important influence local news titles have within the local communities they serve: In both correcting inaccurate national and international news reports at the time and by launching the ‘Salisbury is open’ campaign in the aftermath, the Journal played a vital role in lessening the negative impacts of the incident on the local economy.  

After questioning from the audience, Henry Faure Walker stepped in to describe the changing face of the local news industry and his view on its future. Addressing the decline of printed media in general, Henry assured the audience that local news still reaches 70% of the UK population with local news consumption through Newsquest’s digital platforms seeing exponential growth recently.  

He went on to predict the changing face of local news, with expectations of increased co-dependency with social media channels, user engagement and online content generation, and the creation of a Facebook-like model of user data collection in the pipeline. 1XL’s Scott Gill went on to discuss the positioning of local media within digital display advertising and predicted that local news media will become more pertinent for national advertisers as they start to better value trusted and engaged ad platforms. The Salisbury poisoning and the discussion it stimulated provided a fantastic canvass to scope the perpetual importance to local communities and society more broadly of a well funded local news media industry.