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Community newspapers still needed

August 9, 2018 GMT

In many industries, research is periodically conducted to see what’s being done right, what could be improved upon, identifying strengths and weaknesses, and pointing to future trends.

That’s certainly true for the newspaper industry, too.

Recently, the National Newspaper Association — of which the Daily News is a member — commissioned a scientifically valid survey to be done regarding community newspapers.

Now, I know that the typical Daily News reader doesn’t have the same degree of interest in this kind of research as I do, but I still thought some highlights of what was found would be worth sharing in this space today.

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The survey was done by a Pennsylvania-based polling and research firm and involved making contact with 1,000 people for the association’s 2018 readership survey.

Here are some of the highlights of what was discovered:

— Ninety percent of the people responding said that their community newspaper does a good job of informing them.

— Almost 75 percent of the respondents said that their hometown newspaper provides valuable local shopping and advertising information.

— About 65 percent of those contacted said they read a community newspaper either in print or online, which is basically the same percentage as was found in the 2017 survey.

— And when it comes to advertising, readers are most likely to trust and respond to ads they see in their community newspaper as compared to any other source of advertising.

— Community newspapers rate as the most popular advertising medium when it comes to making purchasing and shopping decisions at local merchants, cited by 24 percent of respondents. Other less popular choices include direct mailings at 18 percent; social media platforms at 16 percent and in-store promotions at 13 percent. Local TV was listed at 5 percent.

— And when it comes to what source of information respondents most rely upon, the top choice was newspapers at 34 percent — far above the other options identified.

Those results speak volumes about the continued relevance and importance of community newspapers and the online products they also are behind.

Given that this is an election year, I want to touch on another finding from the survey. It’s that when it comes to this year’s mid-term elections, 84 percent of community newspaper readers are “very likely” to vote this year, compared to 61 percent of non-readers. Plus, 77 percent of community newspaper readers said they voted in the last election.

What does this mean? It shows that readers of community newspapers tend to be more politically active than non-readers.

And that should be important to candidates for office when they are responding to questionnaires from organizations like the Daily News and also deciding how to spend their advertising dollars.

I think the research helps prove what I’ve believed all along — community newspapers are as needed as ever because readers rely on them.