Local newspapers remain the dominant source of news in small towns and rural areas, according to the results of a new survey performed by the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Center for Advanced Social Research and the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism on behalf of the National Newspaper Association.
Overall, 74% of residents of these areas said they read the local newspapers at least once a week, with 48% reading them once a week and 11% reading them every day.
When interpreting these results, it should be remembered that many of the newspapers in question are weeklies or “non-dailies,” making up 86% of the newspapers in the survey. Thus, 70% of the respondents said they read non-dailies.
Respondents said they spent an average of 39 minutes a week reading the local newspaper, up slightly from a previous survey in 2010. The survey also found that older adults, residents who have stayed in their communities longer, and people with more education read local newspapers significantly more than younger adults, residents of shorter duration, and those with less education.
Among respondents who said they read a local newspaper, 92% said they pay for the newspaper, and the rest get it free. Within this group, 67% subscribe to the newspaper, while 33% said they buy it from a news rack or store.
In terms of motivation, 83.2% of respondents who read the local newspaper do so primarily for the news content, but 69.2% also agreed that it “provides valuable local shopping and advertising information.”
The organizations surveyed 500 adults ages 18 and over living in areas served by newspapers with a circulation under 15,000.