National World to ‘take the leap’ to digital-only publishing

Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman owner National World has said it wants to become a “digital-only” publisher, but still produce newspapers that are more tailored to local communities.

The boss of the company shunned the existing processes for producing newspapers, which he said “should have been abandoned years ago”.

The publisher, which was mulling over a bid for rival publishing giant Reach last year, saw a sharp increase in its digital sales and video advertising last year.

Digital revenue jumped by more than a quarter to £16 million last year, despite volatility in audience numbers because of major economic and news events, it said.

But total revenue was down by nearly a 10th year on year, which the group blamed on tough economic conditions and inflation pushing up the cost of printing newspapers.

David Montgomery, executive chairman of National World, said the publisher is changing the way it operates to keep up with the shifting media landscape.

He said: “Instead of a digital-first company, National World is taking the leap to being a digital-only company.

“Newspapers will be produced on that basis rather than being the products of multiple industrial processes that should have been abandoned years ago.

“True to our publishing heritage we will make our small weekly papers exclusively local in all content – banishing the generic content that was a feature of previous and counterproductive cost-reduction measures.”

He added that it wants to produce more specialist content, and has been retraining staff so that at least half of its journalists will be equipped in video production.

National World was eyeing up a potential takeover of Reach, which owns the Mirror and Express, towards the end of last year, but decided not to go ahead with a bid because the circumstances were not right.

It would have been a tie-up of two of the country’s biggest newspaper publishers.

National World snapped up regional newspaper giant JPI Media at the start of 2021, in a takeover worth more than £10 million.

The group saw its adjusted earnings reduce to £9.7 million last year from £10.1 million in 2021.

Meanwhile, Reach made more than £100 million in underlying pre-tax profit last year, down by 28% compared with 2021.