Survey: Small town residents depend on their newspaper

from PUB~AUX (Publishers’ Auxiliary), March 2014, published by the National Newspaper Association

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 began in 2005. It has consistently shown the community newspaper to be the information leader in smaller communities.

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.

Striking was the finding that nearly one-third of households still do not have Internet access at home. The finding parallels similar conclusions from the U.S. Census Bureau and others that continue to report slow growth in Internet penetration across smaller, and particularly rural communities.

NNA President Robert M. Williams Jr., publisher of the Blackshear (Ga.) Times, remarked that the RJI [Reynolds Journalism Institute of the University of Missouri] 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. “The high levels of trust, the consistent pass-along rate and the desire to find the newspaper in whatever medium the reader wishes to use – whether mobile, print or Web – demonstrate the value of good community journalism.”

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

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