December 2014
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Small town residents depend on their community paper

Guest Editorial

Two-thirds of residents in small towns across America depend upon their local newspaper for news and information, according to the National Newspaper Association’s most recent newspaper readership survey.

The survey noted that more readers are using mobile devices to shop, read and communicate. The number of people with smart phones jumped from 24 percent to 45 percent and 39 percent said they used the phones to access local news.

Newspaper websites remained the leading provider of local news, followed distantly by a local TV station’s site and then by national aggregators, such as Google and Yahoo.

Trust in the local newspaper remains high, the survey found.

Overall, readers in the 2013 survey gave high ratings 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.

Local readers also 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, compared to 2.18 in 2012 and 2.33 in 2011.

NNA President Robert M. Williams Jr., publisher of the Blackshear (Ga.) Times, remarked that the research consistently shows the community newspaper as the dominant information medium in their communities.

“We know that it is very difficult for a good community to survive without a good newspaper and vice versa,” Williams said.

“As I often say, if you want a Big Mac, you go to McDonald’s. If you want local news in Blackshear, you go to the Blackshear Times. That high-quality news franchise is replicated across America — particularly in smaller communities  —  in ways that electronic media can only enhance, not supplant,” he said.

Jerry Lyles, with Athlon Media Group, said “Newspapers are the eyes, ears and hearts of communities across America. They provide local news and information important to their residents that can’t be found anywhere else.”

Interlink founder and owner Bill Garber said, “This year’s NNA research confirms that the newspaper itself remains, by a wider margin, the most preferred and trusted source for local news and information as well as advertising.”

Interlink President Brad Hill concurs, “Interlink believes in the strength of community newspapers. Nothing connects the people of a small community like their local newspaper,” added Hill, who is an NNA representative on the Postmaster General’s Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee.

“Like readers everywhere, Interlink values community newspapers; and like publishers everywhere, we value community newspaper readers, too.           National Newspaper Association

 Editor’s note: With the upcoming town election, The Pagosa Springs SUN is more relevant than ever as your trusted source to learn about the important issues facing voters. In future weeks, The SUN will be presenting proponent and opponent comments on the ballot issues along with candidates statements to help our readers make the best possible decisions for our community. 

This story was posted on February 20, 2014.