New data has revealed that 40 million people read local news in newspapers and online every month.

The research, from JICREG Trust Local, also comes as a new survey from Newsworks/OnePoll shows that 81 per cent of people agree that they trust news and information published in their local newspapers and websites, a rise of seven per cent since 2018.

Publishers have called on advertisers to divert more spend into trusted local media as a Freedom of Information request shows government ad spend with the tech platforms dwarfs spend in local news media, despite its huge reach and high levels of public trust.

NMA chief executive Owen Meredith said: “Local news media is highly trusted and reaches huge audiences in communities right across the UK – a powerful combination for advertisers large and small.

Bournemouth Echo: NMA chief executive Owen MeredithNMA chief executive Owen Meredith (Image: Owen Meredith)

“As one of the largest advertisers in the UK, government must urgently divert a much higher proportion of ad spend to local news media which delivers so much benefit to the public through its investment in trusted local journalism.”

Audiences spiked during the coronavirus pandemic as the local news sector played a critical role in keeping communities informed, both through local journalism and advertising campaigns such as ‘All Together’ – a major ad and branded content campaign with government.

JICREG chief executive Keith Donaldson said: “The trend of strong growth for local media’s digital audiences has continued in recent years, with a large spike during the coronavirus pandemic as lockdowns caused people to spend more time online.

“In line with other media, local news media has now settled back to a more normal pattern in 2022, retaining the vast majority of new audiences gained during the pandemic. It’s very clear that readers are even more engaged with content which they know they can trust and rely on.”

Craig Smith, GroupM trading director, said: “At a time of economic volatility, it is more important than ever for advertisers and media agencies to make the wisest possible choices when allocating media spend.

“As a highly trusted platform with growing scale, local media ticks all the boxes for boosting businesses. Advertisers and media agencies must ensure that they are making full use of this unique and powerful medium.”

JICREG audiences are calculated by RSMB using a combination of PAMCo, Comscore, and audited circulation data. Governed by a board of representatives from the News Media Association, ISBA and the IPA, JICREG is a joint industry currency used by all major publishers and communications agencies in the UK.