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Community papers aren’t going anywhere

Published 5:26pm Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I am constantly quizzed by people on the health and future of the newspaper industry.
I’m told that our business is dying and questioned about how we are doing from faces that are extending their deepest sympathies. Of course, these condolences are fed by the reports of mainstream media, competitive media outlets and problems associated with the giant, daily newspapers. The absolute truth, for this newspaper and other community newspapers, is we’re not dead – not by a long shot.
Community newspapers are thriving. To prove this point, the National Newspaper Association has been conducting surveys over the last several years and the numbers prove what I see in our communities every week. NNA President Merle Baranczyk, publisher of the Mountain Mail in Salida, Colo., said the survey shows that without a doubt, people read their community newspapers.
“The numbers are self-evident. They indicate the level of connectedness people have with their community newspaper,” Baranczyk said. “From year to year, the studies have shown that people believe in their local papers, for the news they need and the advertising they rely on.”
Here’s a few numbers from the latest survey:
• 92 percent of readers thought local newspapers were informative.
• 83 percent agreed that they and their families relied on the newspapers for local news and information.
• 84 percent of readers (and their families) would look forward to reading the newspapers.
• 69 percent thought the newspapers provided valuable local shopping and advertising information.
• 75 percent agreed that local newspapers entertained them.
• Nearly half of readers (46 percent) used the newspapers for their political and voting decisions.
Newspapers won’t disappear. Our industry has changed and will continue to change. What industry hasn’t?
We will continue to evolve with it and with that evolution and the introduction of new technology and digital media (here’s the best part) we actually reach more people – more than ever.
So, put away your shovels. No need to bury community newspapers. You won’t miss us when we’re gone because we’re not going anywhere.

Shannon Elliott is general manager for Elmore County for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc., which includes The Wetumpka Her­ald, The Tallassee Tribune, The Eclectic Observer, Elmore County Living and Gallery of Homes. She can be reached at 334-567-7811. Her email address is shannon.elliott@TheWetumpkaHerald.com.

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