Press Gazette at 50: Packing a bigger punch thanks to power of digital media

On 22 November 1965 UK Press Gazette published its first edition.

Launched by publisher Colin Valdar, and first editor David North, it proclaimed proudly on that first front page:

"We're here, not before the need is urgent, to provide journalists once more with a weekly newspaper devoted exclusively to the problems, personalities and practice of our craft."

Fifty years on, the need for a publication which stands up for journalists and journalism seems just as urgent.

Without Press Gazette, who would have spoken up for 65 UK journalists arrested and/or charged over the last four years (most of whom needlessly)? And who would have cared that police forces were routinely and secretly viewing the call records of journalists in order to identify their confidential sources?

Like the industry we cover, Press Gazette has had a particularly tumultuous last decade. We've closed twice, gone from weekly print to monthly and then finally online-only at the end of 2013.

Like many other titles, we have less resources today than previously because of the loss of advertising to new online-only competitors (many of whom don't produce any journalism).

But thanks to the power of digital media, Press Gazette probably packs a bigger punch today than it has done before. We reach 20,000 subscribers a day for our online newsletter (subscribe here), have around 200,000 unique browsers per month accessing the website and more than 55,000 followers on Twitter.

The last time the Government tried to kill off the Freedom of Information Act, in 2007, Press Gazette took two months to attract more than 1,000 signatures to our Don't Kill FoI petition. Incidentally, back then we were credited with being instrumental in saving the act.

With Freedom of Information again under attack, Press Gazette again launched a petition to save the act last month. This time around we attracted more than 40,000 signatures in just over a month.

This is evidence of the fact that while digital media continues to challenge the business model of 'legacy' publishers such as ourselves, it also has the potential to make our journalism more powerful than ever before.

To kick off a week of special Press Gazette 50th anniversary coverage, here's a video canter through the last 50 years (for a closer look at the front pages see the pics below).

 

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