Hoosiers overwhelmingly support the requirement that state and local governments publish public notice advertisements in Indiana newspapers.
That’s the finding of an American Opinion Research survey conducted this year to gauge public attitudes toward public notice advertising, readership of Indiana newspapers and Hoosier voting patterns and election information sources.
Results were based on interviews with 1,000 Indiana adults using cell phones, land lines and online connections. Results were weighted and projected to the total adult population of the state.
Public notice advertising
American Opinion Research designed the survey to ask about public notice advertising as the first subject to not bias responses.
When asked if publication of public notices in local newspapers is an important obligation for government agencies, 85 percent answered yes.
When asked whether the publication requirement should continue considering it may cost a public agency several thousands of dollars a year in taxpayer money, 64 percent still said yes.
The results for respondents who took the survey online also reported a significant difference in viewing if government website posting replaced newspaper publication. Thirty-six percent of adults said they would read public notices less, while 17 percent said more.
Newspaper readership in Indiana remains extremely strong. When adding readership of newspaper websites with print editions, the reach of newspapers is even greater.
The survey found 79 percent of adult Hoosiers read a daily, Sunday or weekly newspaper at least once a week. Adding readership of newspaper websites moves the number to 86 percent of adults in Indiana reading newspaper content at least once a week.
Readership in print or electronic remains above 80 percent regardless of a Hoosier’s gender, age or income.
For example, survey respondents ages 18-34 registered at 83 percent for weekly readership of a print or electronic newspaper product. Readership for Hoosiers with incomes between $50,000 and $149,000 registered at 92 to 93 percent.
About two adults (1.6 average in the survey) read a newspaper delivered to a home.
A quarter of Hoosier Internet users visit a newspaper website daily, and half access a newspaper site at least once a week.
Readers and voting
The survey commissioned by the HSPA Board of Directors also asked questions about the connection between readership and voting.
According to Indiana’s secretary of state office, about nine in 10 Indiana adults are registered to vote.
Of those registered to vote, 81 percent read a printed newspaper during an average week. Including those who read a newspaper website, the number rises to 88 percent who read newspaper content each week.
Newspapers remain the No. 1 source of information about national, state and local elections at 51 percent. Cable TV and all websites combined (including newspaper sites) are tied for second at 41 percent. Interestingly, direct mail, which is often a favored method for campaign managers, was cited as a source by only 12 percent of adult Hoosiers.
Both Democrat and Republican campaign managers have told HSPA that they don’t advertise in newspapers near Election Day because news readers are typically more informed and have already decided who will get their vote by then.
The survey tested that theory by asking newspaper readers when they typically decide whom to vote for:
• 32 percent said during the week before the election.
• 53 percent said within three weeks of the election.
Newspaper readers decide whom to vote for closer to the election by just 2 percent compared to non-news readers.
HSPA will share the full results of the survey though emails to publishers and advertising directors. To receive a hard copy, please contact HSPA Executive Director and General Council Steve Key at firstname.lastname@example.org or Advertising Director Pamela Lego at email@example.com.