Policy paper

The Cairncross Review: a sustainable future for journalism

This independent report presents an overview of challenges facing high quality journalism in the UK, putting forward recommendations to help secure its future.



Dame Frances Cairncross was appointed chair of the review into the sustainability of high quality journalism in the UK in March 2018.

It’s purpose was to examine and make recommendations relating to:

  • the overall state of the UK news market
  • threats to financial sustainability of the UK news industry
  • the role and impact of digital search engines and social media platforms
  • and the role of digital advertising

It considered ways in which the news industry in the UK can become more sustainable, supporting it whilst it transitions from print to digital.

The report presents an overview of the challenges facing high quality journalism in the UK, considers where intervention might be focused, and puts forward a range of recommendations to help secure its future.

Dame Frances launched a call for evidence as part of her Review. This ran from June 2018 to September 2018 and attracted over 700 responses. A summary of these is included in the report and as part of the Call for evidence on sustainable high-quality journalism in the UK where all submissions to the review (excluding those indicated ‘not for publication’) are also available.

Alongside this Review, we are also publishing Online advertising in the UK, a report by independent consulting firm Plum commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. This study has informed the review. It explores the structure of the online advertising sector, and the movement of data, content and money through the online advertising supply chain. It also assesses the potential for harms to arise as a result of the structure and operation of the sector.

This is in addition to an online YouGov survey of British adults’ newspaper habits and research on recent dynamics in the UK press market provided by Mediatique at the outset of the review. The total sample size of the YouGov survey was 2020 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23 - 24 August 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Published 12 February 2019
Last updated 12 February 2019 + show all updates
  1. Added Médiatique overview of recent dynamics in the UK press market.
  2. First published.