Clare Cookwritten evidence (FOJ0008)


House of Lords Select Committee on Communications and Digital: inquiry on the future of journalism


How can innovation and collaboration help news organisations to maintain sustainable business models?



Clare Cook is a senior lecturer and researcher at the Media Innovation Studio at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, UK[1]. She is the leading expert on the business resilience of independent journalism. She is co-author of the global Sustainable Business Models in Journalism report from 2012[2] and Nesta’s study into hyperlocal revenues in the UK and Europe 2016.


This evidence is based on ten years’ researching and working with hundreds of independent digital journalism sites globally. Independent digital journalism refers to web-native news providers whose core purpose is journalism. Ownership structures are often independent from legacy media, favouring instead models as sole traders, cooperatives and social enterprise. Teams are typically small, relying on some full-time professional journalists, who are not funded by outside groups often remote working. In the UK context, it refers to the galaxy of professional journalism publications which are operating outside of mainstream corporate chains and the BBC. While they increasingly play a vibrant part of the UK media ecosystem, their business fragility remains the greatest challenge. Failure to ensure a resilient economic future will have a direct impact on press plurality.



The government can make meaningful interventions into the resilience of independent digital journalism publishers. The recommendation is for these to be targeted in the following areas:


Subsidy and direct interventions






Media supply chain



Research and development








Legislation and policy
















11 March 2020






[2]     the_net_2012.pdf?sequence=1




[6]              Cook, C and Bakker, P (2019)