Small papers holding steady
Published: Thursday, February 6th, 2014
In the midst of all the negative news about falling newspaper readership in this country, it was good news for small community newspapers from a recent National Newspaper Association readership survey. Two-thirds of residents in small towns across the United States depend on their local newspaper for news and information, according to the 2013 annual NNA Community Newspaper Readership survey.
The survey was conducted by NNA in partnership with the Center for Advanced Social Research of the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Surveyors reached 508 households in communities where a local newspaper of circulation of 15,000 or less served the communities. The annual survey was started in 2005 and has consistently shown the community newspaper to be the information leader in smaller communities.
It was heartening to see that trust in the local newspaper remains high, according to the survey results. Overall, readers in the 2013 survey gave high marks to the accuracy, coverage, quality of writing and fairness of news reporting of the local print newspapers. In “coverage of local news,” ‘quality of writing” and “fairness of reporting” their combined ratings were higher than in 2012.
• 94 percent of readers agreed that the newspapers were informative.
• 80 percent said that they and their families looked forward to reading the newspapers.
• 78 percent relied on the newspapers for local news and information.
•72 percent said the newspapers entertained them.
The survey also found that local readers like to share their newspaper with others. The “pass-along rate” of the primary subscriber’s sharing with others rose in 2013 to 2.48 people, compared to 2.18 in 2012 and 2.33 in 2011. This is possibly due to continued economic pressure from the fallout of the recent recession as families economized by purchasing fewer individual copies of newspapers.
Surprisingly, the survey found that nearly one-third of households still do not have internet access at home. This finding parallels similar conclusions from the U.S. Census Bureau and others that continue to report slow growth in internet penetration across smaller, and particularly rural, communities.
This annual NNA survey confirms the belief that small community newspapers are the heartbeat of the areas they serve. Just imagine the community of Custer without the Chronicle or Hill City without the Prevailer News. These publications, like so many more like them, print news and photos that only their community members care about. Local newspapers truly are the glue that binds small communities together and connects its citizens.
We hope our readers and advertisers value us as much as we value them.
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