Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Newspaper talking points, from me to you

 Published in the Jan. 9, 2011 edition of the Post Register.

Three out of four Americans read a local newspaper every week.

Those of us in the local newspaper business won’t be happy until that percentage is 100, but 75 percent is pretty darn good. Forgive the shameless plug, but it’s also good news for our advertisers.

Every year for the past five, the National Newspaper Association has conducted a national survey to gauge readership and other activities important to our business. The survey for 2010, just out, shows results similar to those in previous years, including that each newspaper copy is read by an average of 3.34 persons. That means that the average Sunday edition of the Post Register has more than 80,000 readers.

Other findings in the 2010 survey include:

§  Readers spend about 37.5 a day minutes reading their local newspapers.
§  78 percent read most or all of their community newspapers.
§  41 percent keep their community newspapers six or more days.
§  62 percent of readers read local news very often in their community newspapers.
About half of those surveyed said their local newspaper is their main source for local news. Friends and family run a distant second as the main local information source at 18 percent, followed by local TV at 16 percent. The Internet and radio fare even worse: 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

 NNA is an association of mostly smaller newspapers, like the Post Register. It’s not terribly interested in what’s happening in Los Angeles, New York, Miami or Chicago and, frankly, neither are we. As I’ve written before, the vast majority of the 1,400 daily newspapers in the U.S. are community newspapers like the Post Register, and readership of those newspapers has never been higher.

 This all may sound like a lot of chest-thumping, but the tens of thousands of people who produce community newspapers across the country have grown quite weary of hearing how readership is falling, the business is dying and the local newspaper is losing relevance. It simply isn’t so.

Newspapers have been hit financially, like just about nearly every other business in the country, because of the recession. But the hit has come on the advertising side of the ledger, not in readership. Our bread and butter is retail advertising, and a lot of those businesses have been spending less on advertising lately. The good news is that many of those businesses just finished a strong Christmas season and things are looking brighter.

So, the next time you hear that “no one reads newspaper anymore,” here are your talking points:
§  Readership is at an all-time high.
§  The newspapers’ toughest competition for providing local information is “friends and family.”
§  Newspapers are going to continue to do even better.

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