We hear so much these days about the struggles of the newspaper industry, and there's no question that there have been some major challenges.
But one point often gets lost among the bashers of the newspaper industry: it remains the primary source of local news and information for most adults.
That's especially true among adults who say they want to know about what's going on their community.
These are among the findings in a recent report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project, which was produced in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. A phone survey of 2,251 adults looked at how people get information and news about 16 different topics.
I've posted the full 25-page report at auburnpub.com with this column, but here are a few of the more interesting tidbits, at least from my perspective:
* The proportion of adults who say they follow local news and information closely was 72 percent.
* These adults say it would have a major impact on their ability to get information about their community if their local newspaper didn't exist.
* Of the 16 news and information topics listed, those who say they follow their local community closely report newspapers as being their preferred source in 12 categories.
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Where did newspapers come up short? Weather, breaking news, traffic and bars/clubs. The categories where newspapers are listed as the primary information source include politics, crime, education, arts/culture, local business, community events, taxes, government activity, real estate, jobs, social services and zoning/development.
What this survey tells me is that the work we do at community newspapers such as The Citizen remains quite relevant to the people who are paying closest attention to what's going on in their hometowns.
Our biggest challenge is finding ways to reach people who, for one reason or another, just do not currently have much of an interest in what's happening in the communities where they live.
For people most connected to their community newspaper, the Pew report will make for interesting reading. I'd love to hear from readers who have the time to check it out and let me know what ideas they have for using the information to help the newspaper improve.
Executive editor Jeremy Boyer's columns appear Thursdays in The Citizen and he can be reached at 282-2231 or firstname.lastname@example.org