Readers turn to print product

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By Steve Key

While newspapers dutifully examine Internet and mobile strategies to maintain their position as the source of local news, I hope we don’t neglect the original product.

I wince when I hear a legislator say his or her local newspaper is “just a shadow” of its old self or other comments on how a paper isn’t as good as it used to be.

It hurts because I know how hard Indiana editors are working to produce newspapers full of local content every week of the year.

Obviously, if they don’t have the same number of reporters they had five or 10 years ago, the job is more difficult.

Advertising dollars shrank during the recent economic downturn, which forced many publishers to downsize staff.

As the economy turns with the speed of a battleship in heavy seas, I hope more journalist positions will be added to state newsrooms.

Why? Because content, quality and quantity, drive a newspaper’s success.

To borrow a line from “Field of Dreams,” “If you build it, he will come.”

Hoosiers still value their local newspapers and remain willing to pay the subscription cost to ensure its delivery.

Based on data available to HSPA on 159 Indiana newspapers, circulation for those papers stands at 1.3 million at the end of the recession.

With the average newspaper read by two people, that puts the printed newspaper’s reach at 2.6 million, or 54 percent of all adult Hoosiers.

We need to remind local businesses that advertising in newspapers is a winning strategy – that their advertising is welcomed by readers and used to make buying decisions.

That’s a powerful message that publishers need to remember and advertising directors need to share.

Steve Key is executive director and general counsel for HSPA.