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Local papers are here to stay

Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

Seventy-nine percent say they prefer to look at newspaper ads over ads watched on TV. Sixty-nine percent find that advertising inserts help them make purchasing decisions.

The local community 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 sources of local news (TV/14 percent and friends and relatives/13.4 percent). Readers are 10 times more likely to get their news from their community newspaper than from the Internet (5.8 percent). Less than 5 percent say their primary local news source is radio.

Many of these statistics mirror the results our community newspapers have seen from CVC readership surveys taken locally each year.

Combine that report with a recent article in the October issue Newspaper & Technology Magazine commenting on a Newspaper Association of America report suggesting that daily newspapers convert to weekly newspapers. The article highlights three key realities.

Reality No.1: Reader frequency and consumption of printed products continue to decline. Reality No. 2: Advertisers do not market their products or services every day. Reality No. 3: Daily newspapers don’t necessarily attract a larger user base to their websites, as the author notes he has plenty of examples where local weekly audiences are not only as strong, but also more loyal in terms of repeat visits.

The bottom line to all these statistics and strategies for those of us in the business of publishing a community newspaper is akin to reading tea leaves. While many things are changing, know that at Denton Publications, we are digesting information from many sources to insure we keep abreast of the best ways to bring you your community news, be it on paper, online or some other method.

So the next time you hear about furloughs at other newspapers, cutbacks in staffing, reduction of publishing days, bankruptcies, or as Rupert Murdock’s Shareholders Group told him earlier this week “the competitive advantage that newspapers had has been competed away” when recommending they sell all their newspaper holdings, please keep in mind that the community newspaper in your hands or on your screen has chosen to accept the challenges of the future rather than throw in the towel. What we do is more than a casual investment it’s all about our lives and our service to the residents we call neighbors and communities we call home.

Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He can be reached at dan@denpubs.com.

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