Trends with: James Savage

James moved to Sweden from the UK at the start of the millennium and was a co-founder of The Local in 2004. The Local provides local news and advice for international professionals and expats in nine European countries. James is currently CEO & Publisher at The Local and is also a panelist and regular commentator for Swedish, British and US media, talking about issues affecting international professionals and Swedish current affair

How would you summarize the past year?

For the media industry in general the past few years have been a time of transformation, with a shift in focus from advertising to subscriptions. This has been a healthy development that has strengthened many media businesses financially, including The Local: we’ve consolidated our subscriber base this year and now have over 52,000 paying members. From the perspective of our user base of expats and international professionals, 2022 has been a challenge: first the pandemic and in particular the travel restrictions that it brought, then the continued problems with international travel. We’ve also seen uncertainty around rules for immigration in general and labour migration in particular.

From your perspective, what are the greatest challenges right now?

Like any business that sells advertising we’re concerned about the general state of the economy — marketing budgets are always vulnerable in a downturn. While subscriptions are a lot more predictable a less buoyant economy and rampant inflation means we need to work even harder to justify why people should spend their money with us. Our strategy right now for both advertising and subscriptions is to keep our focus on super-serving our community and providing a great platform to the advertisers who want to reach them.

And, opportunities?

In times of crisis and difficulty, getting accurate and relevant news and information about the country in which you are living couldn’t be more important. We’ve seen in previous crises that people have gravitated towards us, and there will certainly be opportunities in this crisis. Our job is to be part of the solution to our readers’ problems. If we can achieve that then we’re onto something.