Community newspapers like I-T continue to show strong readership
Communities served by hometown newspapers, such as The Sonoma Index-Tribune, continue to demonstrate heavy reliance upon their local papers for news and information, according to a recently published survey by the National Newspaper Association. In that survey 73 percent said they read a local newspaper at least once a week.
"Community newspapers like ours are not only surviving, our overall readership is growing when you add in our local news web sites. This NNA study shows that we're not alone in telling that success story," said Bill Lynch, Index-Tribune editor-in-chief and publisher. "Our motto is 'We deliver all things SONOMA.' Nobody – no other newspaper, website, radio station or TV station or all those things combined, delivers more local news, features, human interest stories and Sonoma lifestyle coverage to more readers than we do," Lynch added.
The national study showed readers of community newspapers like the Index-Tribune also say they read most or all of their community newspapers (78 percent), and of those going online for local news, 55 percent found it on the local newspaper’s website, compared to 17 percent for sites such as Yahoo, MSN or Google, and 26 percent for the website of a local TV station.
"This survey by the National Newspaper Association confirms our own newspaper and web statistics, and demonstrates why good community newspaper like ours are generally doing better than many of the larger metropolitan newspapers across the country," said Lynch, stated. The results are reported by the National Newspaper Association, which has just completed its fifth readership survey on the patterns of community newspaper readers. Working with the research arm of the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, NNA tests reactions of people living in smaller communities served by local newspapers.
For the 2010 survey, readership for towns with newspapers that have circulations of 8,000 or less (like Sonoma) were sampled. The community size has not significantly affected outcomes. The surveys show that community newspapers have remained popular.
The early data indicate that the positive findings are consistent with the earlier surveys:
• 73 percent of those surveyed read a local newspaper each week.
• Those readers, on average, share their paper with 3.34 persons.
• They spend about 37.5 minutes reading their local newspapers.
• 78 percent read most or all of their community newspapers.
• 62 percent of readers read local news very often in their community newspapers, while 54 percent say they never read local news online (only 9 percent say they read local news very often online).
• 39 percent of those surveyed read local education (school) news very often in their newspapers, while 67 percent never read local education news online.
• 30 percent read local sports news very often in their newspapers, while 67 percent never read local sports online.
• 35 percent read editorials or letters to the editor very often in their newspapers, while 74 percent (nearly three quarters) never read editorials or letters to the editor online.