National survey: Community papers tops for local news

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COLUMBIA, Mo. – A 2012 survey conducted in small U.S. towns and cities by the research arm of the University of Missouri School of Journalism for the National Newspaper Association found that 71 percent of respondents read a community newspaper at least once a week.

National Newspaper Association President Merle Baranczyk, publisher of The Mountain Mail (Salida, Colo.), said the survey shows that without a doubt, people read their community newspapers.

“The numbers are self-evident. They indicate the degree readers rely on and the connection people have with their community newspaper,” Baranczyk said.

The survey found:

• 92 percent said their local newspaper was informative.

• 83 percent agreed that they and their families relied on newspapers for local news and information.

• 96 percent of readers paid for their newspaper.

• 75 percent read all or most of their newspaper.

• Every paper has 2.18 readers.

• 77.4 percent read the paper for local news and information.

• 84 percent of readers (and their families) look forward to reading newspapers.

• 69 percent believe newspapers provide valuable shopping and advertising information.

• 75 percent said local newspapers entertained them.

• 49 percent of those with Internet access said they “never” read local news online.

• 51 percent said they often read public notices.

• 78 percent said governments should be required to publish public notices in newspapers.

• 85 percent said they never visited their local chamber of commerce website.

• 71 percent believe the accuracy of their local paper is either “good” or “excellent.”

• 70 percent believe the coverage is either “good” or “excellent.”

• 59 percent believe the fairness of their local paper is either “good” or “excellent.”

• By a 3-1 margin, respondents prefer their newspaper compared to TV for local news.

• 60 percent said they own a simple cell phone.

• 24 percent said they own a smart phone.

• 16 percent don’t own a cell phone.

The survey summary is available at www.nnaweb.org.