Editorial - Look who's alive and well - you're holding itHere’s good news about community newspapers: They’re still being voraciously read, widely discussed and shared throughout their readership area.
Here’s good news about community newspapers: They’re still being voraciously read, widely discussed and shared throughout their readership area. They’re also clearly the most dominant source of information that local residents turn to for local news.
This drowns out the “death knells” some have been trying to sound about newspapers in the last couple of years.
Community newspapers are generally described as those with a circulation of 15,000 or less, such as the Echo Press.
Here’s the latest data released by the research arm of the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism:
•81 percent of those surveyed read a local newspaper each week – that’s more than 86 million Americans.
•Those readers, on average, share their paper with 2.36 additional readers.
•Community newspaper readers spend about 40 minutes with their paper.
•Seventy-three percent of readers read most or all of their community newspaper.
•Nearly 40 percent keep their community newspaper for more than a week (shelf life).
•Three-quarters of readers read local news often to very often in their community newspaper while 53 percent say they never read local news online.
•Of those going online for news, 63 percent found it on the local newspaper’s website, compared to just 17 percent for sites such as Yahoo, MSN or Google.
•Sixty percent read local education (school) news somewhat to very often in their newspaper.
•Nearly half read local sports somewhat to very often in their newspaper while 70 percent never read local sports online.
•Sixty-two percent read editorials or letters to the editor somewhat to very often in their newspaper.
•Three quarters of readers have read public notices in their community newspapers.
•Forty-seven percent say there are days when they read the newspaper as much for the ads as for the news.
•The local newspaper is the primary source of information about the local community for 60 percent of respondents. That’s four times greater than the second and third most popular choices of local news (TV with 14 percent and friends/relatives with 13.4 percent).
•Readers are 10 times more likely to get their news from their community newspaper than from the Internet.
•On advertising: 69 percent of the survey respondents said they somewhat or strongly agree that advertising inserts help them make purchasing decisions; 79 percent somewhat or strongly agree that they prefer to look at newspaper ads than watch ads on TV; and 70 percent somewhat or strongly agree that they prefer to read newspaper ads than view ads on the Internet.
As pointed out by the National Newspaper Association, stories and blogging about the “demise” of newspapers tend to be based on readership and advertising numbers for major daily newspapers in America, usually the top 100, sometimes the top 250.
Such accounts are failing to tell the whole story: That the 8,000 or so community newspapers, 80 percent of America’s newspapers, are still a vibrant, essential part of their readership area – and very much alive.