January 12, 2012

Readership of local newspapers in small cities and towns remains steady

Readership of local newspapers in small cities and towns remains steady
By Kenneth Fleming

Three-fourth of residents (74%) in small cities and towns in the United States read a local newspaper ranging from 1 day to 7 days a week; majority of the readers (81%) relied on the newspapers for local news and information, according to the 2011 Community Newspaper Readership Study conducted by The Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) on behalf of National Newspaper Association (NNA) in August and October 2011.
The purpose of the study was to continue to examine public attitudes, perceptions, and readership of editorial and advertising content in local newspapers in small communities across the United States, as NNA initiated the research in 2005. Center for Advanced Social Research (CASR) of RJI and Missouri’s School of Journalism conducted 500 telephone interviews (using both landline and cell phone numbers) with adults aged 18 or older that lived in areas where the circulation size of the local newspaper was 15,000.
The steady readership suggests that local newspapers, non-dailies in particular, still have a strong readership in small towns or cities in the United States in today’s new media landscape.
Further analysis shows that older adults, residents who have stayed in their communities longer, and those with higher education read local newspapers significantly more than younger adults, residents with a shorter time of residency, and those with less education. Seven out of ten readers (70%) in the 2011 survey read non-daily newspapers, and 30% daily newspapers.

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