Thursday, October 19, 2017

Newspapers still top choice for local news

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard some interesting comments from a couple of local business people about newspapers. They’re comments that infuriate me to no end.

But perhaps more importantly the comments make me realize how lacking of knowledge people are when it comes to community newspapers.

“Papers are going to be dead in five years,” said one middle-aged businessman.

A businesswoman offered, “I’m not going to advertise, because I got 300-plus likes on Facebook and don’t need to.”

Earlier this year, I also encountered a local marketing expert who was willing to cut his company’s print advertising by thousands of dollars. Luckily, the owner stepped in and quickly put a halt to it.

These particular businesspeople are attempting to justify in their minds that the Dodge County Independent offers no value for them to advertise.

It’s time for a reality check, and a little education to go with it.

A recent survey conducted for the National Newspaper Association, which this newspaper belongs to, found that people prefer newspapers for their local news over TV and the Internet. The majority of those who responded said they preferred newspapers for news about their local community.

For all those digital and social media geeks out there, here’s where things get even more interesting. For community news, local newspapers beat the Internet, which only received 11 percent of the audience share, by 3-1. Social media came in at just 5 percent, as did radio.

More than half of the respondents said they read a newspaper that covers their community specifically. Four percent read their local paper online only, and 7 percent read it online and in print, bringing the total to almost 70 percent who read a local paper.

Among the popular sections that draw people to the local newspaper are school news (61 percent), editorials or letters to the editor (60) and local sports (46).

For the local public officials who don’t see any value in publishing their notices, 81 percent say they read public notices at least some of the time.

Contrast this with the number of people who visit their local government website: 46 percent said they never visit their local government site. And just 25 percent said they visit their local government website somewhat often to very often.

And now to those businesspeople who are reluctant to advertise in the newspaper: the local paper is important for those who shop locally. Almost 80 percent said they find their community paper valuable for local shopping and advertising information.

I hope you’re getting the idea by now that the local newspaper is an important part of people’s lives. 

Contrary to what the middle-aged business guy wants to believe, newspapers, especially weekly community papers like the Times, are in no danger of dying. They are thriving. It aggravates me when I hear such ignorance.

Nobody is going to cover a community as well as the local newspaper. Quite honestly, no other media organization really cares about a community as much as the local paper does. Simply put, nobody else does what we do, or as well as we do.

The local newspaper offers a niche that can’t be found anywhere else. Community residents turn to the local paper to find out about their acquaintances, friends, neighbors and yes, even their enemies.

From local government to business openings to high school sports, community papers give local readers exactly what they want: information about what’s going on in their immediate surroundings.

Google can’t do it, Facebook can’t do it, and Craigslist certainly can’t do it.

To the businesswoman content with her Facebook likes, I hope you think about the not-so-digital people and the fact that social media is nearly dead last when it comes to finding out community news, especially accurate and reliable news.

If you’re a local business or organization looking to hit the masses, your local newspaper is still the best choice and greatest value. The most recent national survey proves that newspapers are still king for local news.

Community newspapers will continue to go in hot pursuit of being a vital thread in the fabric of our nation.

See full story in this week’s print edition or subscribe online. Please subscribe here or current subscribers can login here.

Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
507-583-4431
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
507-634-7503
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
507-634-2661
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

 

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