There have been a lot of rumors about the newspaper industry during the Great Recession. In fact, some newspapers were forced out of business because other businesses that were regular advertisers, were shuttered during the economic downturn.
However, a recent study conducted by the Reynolds Journalism Institute, suggests that newspapers in small U.S. towns and cities where circulation of the local newspaper is 15,000 or less (the Dispatch falls within that category) have 96 percent of its readers paying for the newspaper. Of those paying for their newspaper, 75 percent read all or most of their newspaper, compared to 73 percent in 2011 and 78 percent in 2012.
Here’s an interesting statistic — readers of small town and city newspapers keep their copy of the newspaper for more than 10 days. Local content plays into that statistic, with photos of local events, school activities and civic happenings impacting that statistic.
It’s no surprise then that 77.4 percent of newspapers in smaller cities and towns read the paper for local news and information. (Most issues of the Brainerd Dispatch average 80 percent local news content.)
Folks buying a local newspaper buy it because it provides valuable local shopping and advertising information. What percentage buy it for shopping? Sixty-nine percent.
Unlike the Brainerd lakes area, other newspapers in towns similar in size, only 46 percent of newspaper readers use it as a resource for political and voting decisions. (The Dispatch draws far more interest than the national average based on the reader opinions offered before and during political campaigns.)
Conclusion: Small cities and towns that have newspapers — daily or weekly — are experiencing strong reader loyalty and readership than newspapers in larger cities.
I am personally acquainted with hundreds of journalists, and the opinion of the majority of them would not be worth tuppence in private, but when they speak in print it is the newspaper that is talking (the pygmy scribe is not visible) and then their utterances shake the community like the thunders of prophecy.