Sky is not falling for newspapers

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Despite what you may have read or heard, the sky is not falling over the newspaper industry. In fact, it seems to be opening up to a new horizon — one filled with opportunity.

National reports painting a picture of the “struggling” newspaper industry have focused on a very specific segment of the business, the major metropolitan newspaper.

While the big-city papers are certainly facing some unique challenges including declining readership, research from the National Newspaper Association (NNA) suggests a much different outlook for community newspapers.

Email newsletter signup

The NNA finds that communities across America still rely on local newspapers like The Greenville Advocate to inform and empower their citizens.

An overwhelming majority, some 86 percent, of adults read a local community newspaper every week, according to the 2008 NNA survey, conducted by the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s (RJI) Center for Advanced Social Research at the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri.

“This is in stark contrast to news reports trumpeting the decline, if not demise, of newspapers,” said John Stevenson, president of NNA and publisher of the Randolph Leader in Roanoke. “We learned three years ago that we had a different story to tell, and with this second update we again prove that our initial findings hold up.”

The NNA found similar results during two previous studies in 2007 (83 percent) and 2005 (81 percent).

Some highlights from the 2008 NNA study include:

n 86 percent of adults over the age of 18 read a newspaper every week.

n 75 percent of those readers read most or all of their paper.

n On average, readers spend 45 minutes reading an issue of their paper, compared to 42 minutes from the 2007 survey, and 38 minutes in the 2005 survey.

n More than one-third of readers keep their paper for more than six days, enabling them to revisit a story or advertisement at their leisure.

When considering its strong base of print products along with the increasing number of visitors to, your local newspaper now reaches its largest audience ever, serving readers and advertisers like never before.