Surge in Readers Since Lockdown to The Orkney News

Orkney News logoThe Orkney News held its AGM via Jitsi on Tuesday 30th of June at 2pm.

The Orkney News went online on 1st of February 2017 and was incorporated 6 months later as a not for profit company limited by guarantee  – Orkney News Ltd.

It has 5 Directors and many individual contributors. Everyone involved with the Orkney News is a volunteer.

It is a member of Voluntary Action Orkney.

The Orkney News has a website (powered by WordPress), a YouTube channel and  social media accounts: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


The aim of The Orkney News was to be a source of factual information, news and to reflect a wider variety of viewpoints in the islands.

Its articles would remain free to view and where it was relevant it would also include news and viewpoints from outwith Orkney.


A small number of  readers have taken out subscriptions which gives a regular flow of income.

Advertising generated by WordPress and also from individuals is another regular source.

A successful application to Tesco Bags for Help brought in £1,000 which was used to purchase equipment suitable for mobile journalism.

The award winning animation about the Orcadian suffragist movement, ‘A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm’, was made possible by a Scottish Government Centenary Award. This resulted in an education pack and the animation which has now been shown at Film Festivals in Scotland, England and France, in the local cinema and is free to view on YouTube. The Scottish Government retains the copyright.

LEADER  funding inquiries to Orkney Islands Council were unsuccessful reasons given being that the Orkney News did not fulfil the requirements for the tourism or digital categories.

Since the Covid 19 pandemic, sourcing funding has been impossible. An Expression of Interest which went before Historic Environment Scotland’s Coast and Waters Heritage Fund was successful but could not progress to the next stage as match funding could not be found. This was for the HMS Pheasant 1917 project.

The Orkney News held a successful exhibition as part of St Andrews Fair Saturday at the Northlight Gallery, Stromness which ran for a week starting on November 30th 2019. This was the second year of holding an exhibition and the topic was ‘HMS Pheasant 1917 – Who Were the Lost Men and Boys?’. The charity sponsored was again Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service. The exhibition was a collaboration between The Orkney News, The Northlight Gallery, the Stromness Writing Group and Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service.

This exhibition was taken over to the Hoy Heritage Centre and opened on 1st of March 2020 but had to close due to the Covid19 lockdown.

HMS Pheasant exhibition Hoy

Website Stats

Year 2017 2018 2019 2020 (up to 28 June)
Views 197,104 298,053 289,605 337,191
Visitors 89,637 163,666 159,661 229,587
Views per visitor 2.20 1.83 1.81 1.47
Posts 1,293 1,735 1,799 947

The increase  in visitors to the site in 2020 has been since the end of February and it is logical to assume that this was due to people accessing more online news and information because of the Covid19 restrictions.

The top story in this period was ‘Sweeping New Government Powers’  – 89,233 followed by ‘Advice for Asthma Sufferers ‘– 14,617

After the UK , the countries where most visitors live who come to the site are: USA, Australia and Canada. There is, however, a worldwide audience.

Facebook continues to be the top referrer site with Twitter and the use of search engines much farther behind. In recent months search engines have often overtaken Twitter in numbers being directed to the website.

The Facebook page –  4,240 followers, Twitter – 2,094 followers, YouTube  – 509 subscribers, Instagram – 149 followers and The Orkney News website – 1,199 followers

Looking Ahead

Funding will continue to be a major concern and costs will require to be kept low.

HMS Pheasant 1917 – this project may be possible in 2021 dependent on funding coming through. The bulk of the research is done but the costs involved, mostly to pay for image use and film making, make this impossible to achieve in 2020.

The number of individuals contributing articles continues to increase and during the lockdown restrictions many have indicated that they have found writing for The Orkney News a positive experience. The contributors include those with disabilities and cover a range of ages, gender, income  and race.

Social media plays a significant role in driving readership numbers up and more sharing and linking of articles would increase visitors to the website and YouTube channel.

The audited accounts and other company information can be found on the Companies House website.

The Orkney News banner sunset over loch

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