CASE STUDY #6: The Isle of Thanet News: a growing demand for trusted information
Area of influence: Ramsgate, Margate, Broadstairs and surroundings (Kent)
The Isle of Thanet News is a news provider serving the people of Ramsgate, Margate, Broadstairs and villages in Kent. Funded by advertising from local businesses, the paper is run by Editor Kathy Bailes.
The publication has become an important liasion in the community during the covid-19 crisis, even beyond their traditional journalistic role. And although they are seeing a 60% increase in visits to their site - which shows the increasing demand for the news they produced in their area - they are struggling.
Beyond traditional journalism
In response to the community need for information and help during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, The Isle of Thanet News have played an instrumental role in helping put readers in touch with local groups and volunteers, such as Westgate and Ramsgate Town Councils, to ensure they can access food and other help they may need.
They have created a dedicated hub on their website for coronavirus related articles, as well as a pinned post featuring helpline numbers, links to support groups and information about local shop opening times and deliveries. They are also publishing regular business updates, particularly on pay outs available via the council for those eligible and have created an online resources article with links to various projects to help keep people entertained.
In addition, the title has also produced a 16-page print edition containing the same information that is listed online, to ensure vital information is reaching those residents who may not access news online. Physical copies of the paper were distributed via a food hub that delivered to food banks, homelessness groups, churches and isolated individuals.
A growing demand for trusted local news
The pandemic has seen a surge in demand for the publication’s content: visits to the site have gone from an average of 500,000-600,000 per month to 800,000 in March and are on track to continue with similar figures throughout April and May.
“This, I believe, shows the desire for useful, local information and news.” Kathy Bailes, Editor, The Isle of Thanet News.
Despite a growth in demand, The Isle of Thanet News is another example of a title that is struggling to survive in the current economic climate.
Currently, Kathy is unable to continue to employ ocassional freelance help, and income from advertising, which in her case comes mostly from the leisure and hospitality industry, has dried up: "In the meantime I am using the business float and public donations to keep the business going,” explains Kathy.
Local independent news providers such as The Isle of Thanet News are needed now, during the Covid-19 crisis, more than ever, as the surge in visits to the online edition of this title show.
The vital information and support resources shared by the title helping to keep a community well-informed and safe during this crisis is another example of the need to #saveindependentnews.