Support Your Local Newspaper Reporter

According to the 2011 results of an annual survey conducted by he National Newspaper Association and the research arm of the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, readers in areas served by community newspapers continue to prefer the community newspaper as their source of local news and advertising.

The study shows that 74% of people in communities served by a newspaper with circulations under 15,000 read a local newspaper each week. They prefer the printed copy to the online version, with 48% saying they never read the local news online. They prefer to receive advertising through the newspaper (51%) instead of on the Internet (11%). And only about a quarter of respondents said they had found local news through a mobile device in the past 30 days. 38% said they had received local shopping information by mobile device.

81% of local residents rely on the paper for local news and information, according to a survey. 86% of respondents say their local newspaper is informative, and 3 in 4 look forward to reading it. They also have a strong preference for government accountability through newspaper public notice, with 80% saying the government should be required to publish notices in the newspaper.

Community Newspaper Values (% of Local Residents Agreeing)


% Agreeing



Rely on for local news/info


Look forward to reading


Valuable shopping/ad info




Source: NAA 2011 Community Newspaper Readership Survey, December 2011

NNA President Reed Anfinson, publisher of the Swift County Monitor-News in Benson, MN, says “... the survey indicates a majority of respondents believe that the newspaper... provides more background and depth... is more useful to them than other news sources... ”

Since 2005, NNA has done research on how people read and what they think about their local newspaper. Results have been consistent over the years, even as sample and community sizes have been adjusted slightly. The data indicates that the positive findings in the earlier surveys are consistent for community newspapers:

  • 74% of those surveyed read a local newspaper each week
  • Those readers, on average, share their paper with 2.33 persons
  • They spend about 38.95 minutes reading their local newspaper
  • 73% read most or all of their community newspaper
  • 43.8% keep their community newspaper six or more days (shelf life)
  • 61% of readers read local news very often in their community newspaper
  • 48% say they never read local news online (only 11% say they read local news very often online)
  • Of those going online for local news (167 respondents), 52% found it on the local newspaper’s website, compared to 20% for sites such as Yahoo, MSN or Google, and 25% for the website of a local TV station
  • 33% of those surveyed read local education (school) news very often in their newspaper, while 68% never read local education news online
  • 27% read local sports news very often in their newspaper, while 70% never read local sports online
  • 40% read editorials or letters to the editor very often in their newspaper, while 64% never read editorials or letters to the editor online
  • 80% think governments should be required to publish public notices in newspapers, with 23% reading public notices very often in their newspaper
  • 70% have Internet access in the home, but 80% never visit the Web site of their local chamber of commerce

The local community newspaper is the primary source of information about the local community for 51.8% of respondents compared to seeking information from friends and relatives (16%) and TV (13.2%.) (7.4%), says the report. Less than 6% say their primary local news source is radio.

Of those with Internet access at home, 89% have broadband access. Readers are seven times more likely to get their news from their community newspaper than from the Internet

Data from the survey indicates that given the choice, 8 in 10 respondents say they would rather look through ads in the newspapers than view ads on the internet. Two-thirds of respondents agree that they often use newspaper advertising inserts to help make purchasing decisions. Similarly, two-thirds agree that they often seek out newspaper advertising to find information on the latest offerings and sales available in their area, and almost half say that there are days when they read the newspaper as much for the ads as for the content.

Prefer Newspaper Ads to TV Ads (% of Respondents)


% of Respondents

Strongly agree


Somewhat agree


Somewhat disagree


Strongly disagree


Source: NNA 2011 Community Newspaper Readership Survey, December 2011

For additional information from the NNA, please visit here.

3 comments about "Support Your Local Newspaper Reporter".
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  1. Tony Nino from PADV Pasadena Advertising, January 12, 2012 at 4:07 p.m.

    While I agree that the information in this study reflects some positive results that we have had with select local newspapers in Pasadena, CA, I have to wonder about the figures.
    Significantly, the research was sponsored by The National Newspaper Association, and in the study group they selected, only 70% have internet access, as opposed to almost 80% in the country at large.
    While I agree that ignoring local newspapers as an integral part of your media mix is a mistake, I have to take these results with a grain of salt.

  2. Heidi Marttila-Losure from Dakotafire Media, January 13, 2012 at 12:13 p.m.

    Remember that this was a survey of community newspapers, which are, for the most part, not going to be in urban or even suburban areas. They are in small towns and rural areas, and guess who is left out there? Older people. There's pretty much an entire generation missing in many rural areas as young people have left to follow opportunities elsewhere. Those older people are great readers of community newspapers and still like the printed page for getting their news. So if you want to reach the 45+ crowd, community newspapers are still great. I think the message for both community newspapers and people trying to spend their advertising dollars effectively is that younger audiences get their news differently, and to reach them, both newspapers and advertisers are going to have to go where they are (Facebook and mobile, for example) instead of waiting for young people to come to them.

  3. Howard Willens from Gray Matters, January 13, 2012 at 4:55 p.m.

    The data would be more useful if there was an age breakdown. Iwould be willing to bet that the positive findings on readership skew older

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