Friday, March 02, 2012

Community newspapers and online

Some new research by Mike Jenner at the University of Missouri presented at the industry "Mega-conference" this past week finds that publishers of weeklies see a long future for print, but they are moving -- slowly -- into the digital realm as well.

From the write-up in the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association bulletin:

The absence of ubiquitous broadband Internet access across weekly markets and the competition for readers and advertisers are behind some of the decisions to implement paid content and mobile platforms and products.

Thirty-six percent of weekly publishers say their market is not saturated with broadband Internet coverage. Another 33 percent say their markets are saturated; while 31 percent are neutral.

Publishers see greater competition in their markets for ad dollars than for news coverage. Only 24 percent say they’re in a competitive news market. But the perception of competition for advertising is a different story: 47 percent of publishers say they’re in competitive advertising markets. One quarter say their markets are not competitive for advertising; another 28 percent are neutral.

Ninety-five percent of weeklies with more than 5,000 circulation have websites, compared to 77 percent of those with less than 5,000 circulation.

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At 3/7/12, 11:34 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

interesting report. i find the same to be true for our university paper. we are trying to digitalize our work, but there is a lot even our advisors do not fully understand as to what makes for attractive and interesting web-journalism.

At 3/8/12, 5:59 AM, Anonymous Brien said...

I found your blog through a search for an AP Style issue (the change in percentages) and was looking at a post of yours from 2008. So, I wanted to see what you have written lately. Your latest post surprises me. That any editor, publisher or journalist who's working in print in 2012 hasn't adopted a solid web/mobile strategy for their publication, or who isn't refining an existing one, is almost incomprehensible. Certainly, print lives on but mobile/web is the communications industry standard. Even magazines I love that mostly come out in print have fairly good Facebook presences (which can serve for mobile purposes as well) and occasionally place online versions of their stories on their sites or others to attract new readers, spread the brand and distribute important ideas. About year 2000 I told Gannett higher ups that print won't die but they better be ready for a multiple channel future if they want readers and income. They didn't listen very well then and it seems many are still trying to live in a fantasy world today. Only super-niche, high-end print pubs (mostly oriented towards photography and creative writing) will continue to prosper in the future. News and anything to do with current events or anything a profitable mass of people will read must compete in the mobile/web marketplace. Writers know it, even if they have affinity for print, because that's where their (admittedly, smaller) paychecks are coming from these days. Universities do a massive disservice to journalism students if they produce only a printed product. The focus should be on high quality content gathering procedures, excellent editing and rapid turnaround for various mediums, print being just one of them.

At 3/8/12, 8:16 AM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Brien, Jennifer:

That's why I put this out there, to generate discussion.

I find the attitude by some community publishers troubling too. Perhaps there is a "local advantage" that will allow them to continue in print much longer. But my statement to most when I give seminars or consult is simply this: "That's not a newspaper hanging off your customers' belts or in their purses."


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