Over the last 10 to 15 years local journalism in Edinburgh has been heading in one direction – unfortunately for the people of Scotland’s capital, that is downhill.
Now more than ever Edinburgh needs a quality media outlet and that is what Keep Edinburgh Thriving is here to provide.
We are all familiar with what most local news websites look like today: you have to chop your way through a jungle of ads, only to find endless stories that have nothing to do with local issues and offer no context or insight as to what is really going on in Edinburgh.
This story is about local news, and what’s happened to it over the past 20 years. We are making the argument for why our city needs a new quality media outlet like Keep Edinburgh Thriving.
If you find it interesting, it would mean a lot to us if you shared this article with a few friends to let them know about Keep Edinburgh Thriving and what we are doing.
We launched Keep Edinburgh Thriving in March 2020 to do two things: help provide a revenue for local independent businesses and put a smile on the faces of the people who received one of our gift boxes.
During the first lockdown we supported over 50 local businesses when they needed it most, and sent over 5,000 gift boxes all around the the world to those missing loved ones in what has been a difficult and strange time for us all, to say the least.
A year on, we find ourselves still in lockdown but with a more optimistic horizon, so we have decided to pivot once again and try something new in journalism.
Keep Edinburgh Thriving is a start up media company built around our readers, not advertisers.
So why news and why now? Well, there are a couple of very good reasons.
For decades local newspapers turned a pretty penny. They were one of the few places where local businesses could advertise and get in front of potential customers. After we all got over the fear of the millennium bug, advertisers started to boycott newspapers and invest in new types of marketing on platforms like Google and Facebook. These soon-to-be tech giants gave marketers and advertisers a more sophisticated way to gain new consumers.
Another nail in the coffin came from the vast amounts of free information the internet now provided. Lots of readers soon followed and local media companies were left wondering what to do next.
The impact on the news business, particularly print, has been catastrophic. Year after year there has been cost cutting at the most established news empires.
Zeroes have disappeared from the balance sheets of the most established news outlets, including those based in Edinburgh.
Many journalism students who go on to work for local newspapers soon realise they aren’t really doing journalism at all. Rather than going out to meet sources and interview people, they will often just be handling press releases.
Local news outlets are fixated on driving clicks and traffic to their websites because they are looking to fill the void left by tumbling print revenue with online advertising revenue. Articles are filled with a plethora of ugly ads, distracting the reader and ruining the whole experience.
To make online ad revenue work, media companies rely on getting as many people to their websites as possible – so that means quantity rather than quality. As a result we are left with local news outlets running stories with clickbait headlines that are often nothing to do with local events.
In 2021, most of us consume too much information. Over the last 100 years we have moved from information scarcity to overload.
Getting hold of information is not a problem – it’s figuring out which snippets are important, and which are just noise. Journalists who are tasked with churning out four or five articles a day are only adding to this noise. Through no fault of their own, they are not providing the product that local Edinburgh people need.
Good journalism means sifting through the mess, validating truth, speaking to experts and providing context so that people can understand what is really going on in their own back garden.
At Keep Edinburgh Thriving we look at news from a reader-first perspective.
For too long local media companies have reported on the news to fit their own agenda – countless articles about viral social media posts, press releases and entertainment. These types of stories take little time or effort to write but they do go a long way to help drive that all important ad revenue.
Good local journalism needs to report on stories that show the truth, even if that might not be what local councils, police or businesses want us to know. We need to give the correct context even if that shows something in a less flattering light.
We have pivoted as a startup local media company because we know the people of Edinburgh need a different type of news, reported in a new way.
We will pioneer thoughtful news that looks at topics from less obvious angles.
If you agree with these arguments about local news, please share this with your friends, and think about signing up to our daily newsletter – twice a week it will provide you with a sense of what’s happening in Edinburgh, in five minutes or less.
Keep Edinburgh Thriving aims to be the smartest, easiest way to connect with the place you live and love.
-- Robbie Allen, founder of Keep Edinburgh Thriving