Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pass-along -- try that with your web site

A version of the post was published in the Post Register April 25, 2010.

Six days a week nearly 80,000 people in eastern Idaho read a copy of the Post Register and another nearly 3,000 go to our web site.

Those are big numbers -- never big enough as far as we’re concerned, but big nonetheless. More interesting, total readership of the Post Register and other daily newspapers, contrary to the popular myth, is growing.

National polling firm Scarborough Research recently completed a survey of what we call the “pass-along rate” -- the number of people who read each copy of a printed edition of the newspaper. The result was, to some, surprising. The pass-along rate has grown from 3.07 adult readers per copy in 2007 to 3.3 readers per copy today -- an increase of 7.5 percent. Add this to the many millions of people who read newspapers online every day and you’ve got a growing readership.

The Post Register’s daily paid circulation is about 24,000. Assuming the pass-along rate here is the same as the national average (if anything, it would be higher, given eastern Idaho larger families), that makes 79,200 readers per edition, not counting the additional 3,000 or so who read us online.

We don’t want to brag, but that’s a lot of folks at a time when you might think that newspapers are an endangered species, if you aren’t paying close attention. Even as the Internet continues to grow as a purveyor of information, printed newspapers remain the most important medium for local news and advertising.

Two other findings of note from the save survey:
Daily printed newspaper readers are 16% more likely than all adults to be college graduates.

Daily printed newspaper readers are 11% more likely than all adults to be home owners.
There may yet come a day when printing presses are silenced and the information local newspaper provide will be exclusively delivered digitally. But predicting the death of printed newspapers is a slippery business. In 1981, for example, Ted Turner predicted newspapers wouldn’t survive a decade. (It is perhaps apocryphal, but newspaper legend has it that some newspaper editor responded that newspapers would be printing Turner’s obituary one day.)

Turner, not known for giving in easily, repeated his refrain in 2006 when he told the National Press Club that, “When I die, they’ll (newspapers) will die with me.” That, of course, was 15 years after Turner had said that newspapers would be done.

Also of note on this topic, a recent survey indicates that only 3 percent of newspaper reading takes place online. I'll leave it to you to interpret that information.

But I digress. Not only are newspapers alive and well, their readership continues to make them the essential local medium and the future looks pretty darn good.

“More people are reading each printed copy, further enhancing the value of the newspaper as an advertising medium, and increasing exposure for advertisers,” said Gary Meo, a senior vice president at Scarborough.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

I’m not a betting man, but I’ll bet you a buck that in another 15 years, the Post Register’s presses will still be running.

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