Few would argue that America’s metropolitan newspapers are in trouble, beset by declining circulation and ad revenues and free online competition. But rural and community newspapers, like the six weeklies we publish here in Plumas and Lassen counties, are weathering the storm.
In the United States, some 7,500 community newspapers — papers with under 30,000 in circulation — still hit the streets, front porches and mailboxes at least once a week.
A 2010 survey conducted by the University of Missouri, Columbia for the National Newspaper Association produced some enviable statistics: More than three quarters of respondents said they read most or all of a local newspaper every week, averaging 40 minutes and sharing it with 2.36 additional readers. In contrast, 54 percent say they never read local news online.
And for our business partners trying to market their goods and services in this ever-changing media landscape, survey results showed that newspaper advertising handily beat the Internet and was four times stronger than direct mail as the primary source for advertising.
“The community newspaper business is healthier than metro newspapers, because it hasn’t been invaded by Internet competition,” says Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky. “They have no effective competition for local news. Rural papers own the franchise locally of the most credible information.”
This is not to say that rural papers are simply going gangbusters. Like every small business across the country, community newspapers, including this one, have had to make adjustments during this relentless recession.
Rural newspapers make for lean living and busy workweeks these days. In addition to being the community’s watchdog, reporters have to wear many hats to put out a local paper, interviewing Eagle Scouts, snapping photos of the rodeo queen, attending an array of sporting events and writing editorials on a myriad of local issues. The advertising and graphics departments continually look for new, innovative ways to ensure businesses get the results they deserve (and need) from their ad investments. And, when all that jells, just like clockwork the paper’s production crew prints and packages your newspaper, delivering a colorful and crisp product stuffed with assorted ad and news circulars.
So, thanks for inviting us into your home and making us a part of your family. We know you enjoy reading us — our consistently strong circulation numbers and in-house surveys prove that.
We are your hometown newspaper. We look forward to embracing change and innovation to ensure we remain the written record of your community for decades to come.