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PressReader survey indicates technology as the key solution to rise of news deserts


Over the past several months, PressReader surveyed hundreds of professionals working in English-language news and publishing around the globe. The survey was conducted to get a sense of views on the current state and future direction of the industry — with a particular focus on the problem of news deserts.

News deserts, or communities with limited access to credible and comprehensive news, is an ongoing issue which affects democracy in urban and rural areas. Since 2008, more than 450 news outlets in Canada have closed with more than 60 of those closures having occurred in the last two years alone (Heritage Canada, 2022). The slow death of local media limits coverage from smaller communities, threatening their long-term vitality.

Survey finding: Technology to reverse the worrying trend

In an era of fake news sources, the loss of local newspapers threatens the right to be well-informed and access varying perspectives. More than 87% of respondents agreed that local news access is vital to democracy. Forty-five percent of respondents of the same survey said they believe that access to local news has decreased in the past decade.

"We commissioned this survey to really dive into the industry issue of news deserts," says Ruairí Doyle, CEO, PressReader Group of Companies. "We wanted to understand the industry perception of the problem, drive additional awareness around the issue, understand possible solutions and ultimately our role and the role of technology providers in those solutions."

Publishers are well aware of the issues their industry is facing, with 64% saying they’re fairly pessimistic about the way the news industry is trending. However, respondents were predominantly optimistic about the ability of technology to positively impact issues that have contributed to the growth of news deserts. Respondents were confident that emerging technologies could help sustain or even increase access to local news.

“We know that newspaper publishers are looking for innovative ways to increase readership, and are embracing digital transformation,” says Doyle. “For this reason, PressReader has created technologies that offer different solutions for publishers, so they can reach a broader audience and ensure they are fairly compensated and consequently flourish. ”

Digital distribution and monetization models

PressReader’s Branded Editions product supports local publishers’ digital transformation and monetization, which directly addresses local publishers’ pain points. For publishers to connect and engage with more readers, PressReader offers proprietary technology, unique digital distribution networks and monetization opportunities.

  • Enabling digital transformation for local publishers, PressReader’s technology automatically extracts text and images from the print editions of newspapers and magazines — creating a seamless, personalized and convenient digital reading experience in page-view or text view. Users can read or listen to their favorite newspaper or magazine on the web or app with content instantly translatable in up to 24 languages as well as an audio format — a level of interactivity and engagement that traditional print or PDF formats cannot rival.
  • With PressReader’s digital distribution, local publishers can save on print and distribution costs, and extend reach to markets they would not have access to otherwise, and increase engagement with readers, all while being paid fairly.
  • Through PressReader’s Sponsored Access model, PressReader’s B2B partners, such as public libraries and hotels, provide their customers with access to the world’s most trusted journalism, bringing publishers’ quality news sources or entertainment to new readers. In this way, readers can access the content they trust, brands get a sustainable way to elevate their customer experience, communities can access trusted news outlets through their public libraries or personal subscriptions, and publishers have more ways to grow audited circulation and revenue. PressReader’s Sponsored Access model creates a virtuous cycle that ultimately supports journalism.

For key stats from the survey, please see here.

About PressReader Group of Companies:

PressReader Limited  is on a mission to empower and enrich curious minds by bringing a universe of quality content within reach. The company is a group of companies (including PressReader, Branded Editions and TextBookHub brands) building technology solutions for content delivery and consumption, publisher empowerment, content intelligence and brand engagement.

The company works with the publishers of over 14,000 newspapers, magazines and educational publications and collaborates with global business partners from 150 countries to connect people from every corner of the world with quality content.

Branded Editions, operated by PressReader Group of companies, supports content publishing and distribution across the web, iOS, Android, Amazon and a host of 3rd-party integrations, allowing content creators to deliver their digital content to readers how and where they want it. For more information about PressReader’s initiatives and Branded Editions, please visit their website: