Overpriced and over-crowded, London’s reputation has finally caught up with it and people are leaving the UK capital in their droves. The Big Smoke is one of the few places across the country where rents are falling (by as much as 15%, according to one landlord), as the work-from-home crowd flock to the countryside.
Property owners and businesses can blame the pandemic, but it has catalysed – like so many other things – consumers’ desires to get what they can from the city, and then set-up shop elsewhere.
The knock-on effects for London-focused media has been profound, with free business newspaper City AM halting its print-run twice. It is now recruiting several junior reporters, has a new editor in the shape of Andy Silvester and will return to print next year.
The print side of the publication relies heavily on London’s transport network, which has shown no signs of returning normality since the UK’s second lockdown was eased. The Evening Standard has also felt the pain, with its own editor, Emily Sheffield, joining the outlet this year while at least 16 journalists were let go.
Both of these titles have a digital presence, but it looks like regional publishing powerhouse Reach could be looking to expand aggressively into the online space.
The £431m market cap company is recruiting 20 new staff for its MyLondon website, representing a workforce hike of 50%. Given the demographic and macroeconomic shifts, as outlined above, this is a rather bold move.
But it is one that the Standard and City AM management should be wary of, not least since MyLondon was only formed in 2019. All of these titles have one thing in common: they’re free to read. Perhaps it’s time a subscription-based outlet was launched to serve Londoners?
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