Good News for Newspapers (Sort of)

Despite the plethora of national and international news sources available via the Internet and good old-fashioned print subscriptions, local news still engenders a loyal following from adults.

According to a recent study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 72 percent of adults follow local news closely. Of those who do, 32% say the absence of their local newspaper would have a major impact on them.

Local news enthusiasts also tend to be older (40-plus), have lived in their communities longer, know more of their neighbors, and are more likely to think they can help make their community a better place to live. For 14 out of 16 topics (weather, politics, crime, traffic, etc.), the local newspaper is the preferred source of information for local news enthusiasts.

Perhaps that’s why Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway have been snapping up local newspapers across the country recently. Buffett realizes that residents of strong communities have an affinity for their local hometown newspaper and will support it financially.

While this news is encouraging for newspapers, the survival of local print operations may depend on doing away with free access to online content. More will be putting up paywalls to limit access to subscribers or those willing to pay a one-time fee to see a story.

We recently attended an NCPRSA luncheon with News & Observer Publisher John Drescher who spoke of the need for newspapers to seek additional streams of revenue. Sure enough, the N&O soon rolled out a new subscription service for electronic editions of its daily print newspaper.

What does all of this mean for PR practitioners? We have four key takeaways:

  1. Local newspapers are not dead, and are still key to reaching an older demographic who are very involved in their communities.
  2. Monitoring local media effectively might mean subscribing to more of them or paying to access their online content.
  3. Those 40 and younger rely more on the Internet than newspapers for news and information.
  4. To cultivate future readers, newspapers will have to find ways to deliver content to mobile devices.

To discover how S&A Cherokee can help with your public relations needs, contact us for a free consultation at (919) 674-6020.

Author: Glenn Gillen, APR
Glenn Gillen is our Senior Account Manager.

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