Print circulation in the midst of the pandemic

Publishing history has been suddenly accelerated: many publications are radically shifting from print to digital and a lot of publishers are simply running out of cash. The latest ABC circulation figures, released on 16th April, cover the period 2nd to 22nd March and reveal the impact of the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak on the industry.

The lockdown hits every part of the supply chain – from printers to distributors to shop newspaper stands. Moreover, much of the media is heavily reliant on advertising, which is one of the first areas to be cut in any economic downturn.

Inevitably it’s been the smaller titles which have suffered the most, but free newspapers are also facing the brunt of the crisis. Metro had begun to see the impact of people staying at home in early March, with distribution down seven per cent, or just under 100,000 copies, on the month before. The Evening Standard is now delivering to homes in a first for the title, cutting distribution from 800,000 to 500,000 copies  a day.

However, PressGazette data suggests it’s a different story for online as commuters ditch their newspapers for logging on. In the UK, the Guardian overtook tabloid-style competitors – MailOnline – in website traffic terms last month. The Telegraph overtook the Mirror online, and the Financial Times extended its online traffic lead over the Daily Star.

Google saves the press

Google has launched an emergency relief fund to give financial support to “thousands of small, medium and local news publishers globally”. Interested local newsrooms can apply for the funding via Google’s Digital News Initiative for the next two weeks.

Local news publishers have been among the hardest hit by the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Advertising revenue has collapsed as events are cancelled and advertisers face their own commercial concerns, while sales and free pick-ups of papers have fallen as people stay at home. Google said it is backing local news as it’s “a vital resource” for keeping people and communities connected.

LADBible backlash

Many within the media have expressed their shock that online publisher LADbible was invited to the Downing Street press conference last weekend, raising questions over who should and shouldn’t be included in the lobby. Editor Simon Binns asked Priri Patel whether police had national data around dispersals, arrests and fines over the public breaking social distancing rules. Binns responded to shock over Twitter that he’s “been a journalist for 20 years” and “didn’t win it in a cracker”.

LadBible, which boasts 300 million unique monthly viewers, probably got a slot at the Downing Street presser because it has a wider distribution than many of the traditional outlets that normally ask questions. The publisher also crucially claims to reach 82% of adult Gen Z (18-24 year olds) across the UK every month, a key audience both the BBC and the Government are failing to make progress on.

This comes as the LadBible and Unilad publishers have this week announced they won’t chase clicks on coronavirus stories and state they have “a responsibility to only provide accurate information and take a stand against rumours”.


City A.M. has launched a new daily podcast called The City View, in which Editor Christian May will take a quick look at the headlines from the worlds of business, finance, economics and politics, before introducing his guest of the day. Guests will be industry leaders, economists, pundits, investors, journalists, politicians and senior figures from the City of London. Expect insight and analysis mixed with good conversation, humour and expertise as Christian and his guests attempt to make sense of the world in extraordinary times.

This comes after news that City A.M. staff will be furloughed as the daily digital edition has been suspended from the beginning of April so it can focus on publishing rolling news on The measures are intended to protect the newsbrand during the pandemic.


The Guardian Media Group has said it faces “significant financial challenges” as it expects revenues to be down by £20m over the next six months. The publisher has announced new measures to cope with the financial impact of the coronavirus. The predicted shortfall for the first half of the 2020/21 financial year, which began this month, comes despite a £10m cut in planned spending following a review in March in the early days of the outbreak in Europe.


Sam Meadows starts as Consumer Affairs Editor at The Daily Telegraph.

Ramzy Alwakeel has been promoted to Head of News at the HuffPost.

James Robinson has now started his new role as a UK Home News Reporter at MailOnline.

Adam Smith will be joining The Independent as a Science & Technology Reporter.

Will Martin has been appointed Interim Markets Editor at Business Insider UK, assisting with the title’s coverage of the COVID-19 economic crisis.

Madlen Davies has been appointed as Chief Global Health Correspondent for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.


If your organisation needs communications advice, or you would like more information about how Lexington’s team of media experts can support you, please contact Patrick Foster, Head of Corporate Communications.