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Occasionally, someone will ask me how the Gazette is doing. Usually, it’s in the same hushed tone you might use to inquire about a sick relative.
When I say, “Fine. Considering the general economy, our business is pretty decent,” there is a look of genuine surprise.
It’s understandable, I guess. There is a steady spate of national stories about the decline of newspapers in the U.S., with tales of reduced circulation and cutbacks in print advertising. Some even predict there will be no newspapers by the end of the decade.
I’m not going to minimize the problems that affect some newspapers, especially large daily papers in major markets. But in smaller communities across the country, the story is much different. Readers in areas served by small community newspapers continue to prefer the newspaper as their source for both local news and advertising.
That’s the conclusion of a new survey conducted by the National Newspaper Association and the research arm of the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
It showed that 74 percent of people in communities served by newspapers with circulations of less than 15,000 read a local newspaper each week. And nearly half of those surveyed said they had never read a local news story on the internet. Of those who had read a local news story online, more than half read it on their local newspaper’s web site.
Other interesting facts from the survey:
- Readers share their papers with more than two other people.
- On average, they spend nearly 39 minutes reading the local paper.
The local newspaper is the primary source of information about the community for about 52 percent of respondents, followed by friends and relatives at 16 percent, and TV at 13 percent.
That’s the reason newspapers are doing well in communities such as New Albany. So, how is the Gazette doing?
Well, you can tell from today’s paper that we are the choice in Union County for advertisers. Today’s paper includes 12 advertising flyers, as well as a number of ads within the paper itself.
Advertisers choose a newspaper based on its readership. And, thankfully, ours is growing. If you’re a reader of the fine print in the required annual postal report, which we published in October, you know that the Gazette circulation is going up. During the past year, we have increased in both mail subscribers and in single-copy sales through racks and vendors.
We think our readership is growing because we offer the only full-time news staff in Union County. We run more stories, more photographs and more color about local events than any other publication.
And we are adding to the value of your newspaper. Last year, we started Explore Magazine, an annual guide of things to see and do. This year, we have produced three new glossy magazines. Two are sports previews that focus on prep sports. The third, New Albany Magazine, is a general interest magazine. All of our magazines come to you as part of your newspaper.
During this Thanksgiving season, we thank you for your advertising and readership support of your community newspaper.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.