Local newspapers are an integral part of the community and play a vital role keeping the people in it connected, according to a study by The Newspaper Works and Brand Navigator.
Readers were found to relate to community newspapers on a personal, intimate and hands-on level. Community newspapers were found to offer a hands-on, supportive and helpful service. Readers also saw community newspapers as supporters of local business. Twice as many readers said they were likely to inquire about a brand advertised in a local newspaper, as a brand advertised in letterbox flyers.
Readers were likewise twice as likely to consider information practical and useful when found in a local newspaper as opposed to on local radio. Three quarters of readers said community newspapers helped define their community. Twice as many readers thought local newspaper content was relevant to them as they did local television content.
Community newspapers are also seen as an integral part of the local community – not just reporting the news within it. This was partially motivated by the paper’s role in celebrating local community heroes and initiatives. “I read the local paper because I don’t want to feel like I am missing out,” said one respondent.
Another agreed: “I really enjoy reading the local paper – it keeps me connected”. Three times as many readers said they felt good about a business after seeing it advertised in a community newspaper, rather than a letterbox flyer.
Community newspapers were also found to play an important role covering stories that other media ignored. This hyper-local approach means papers start conversations and are part of the social glue of their communities. Four times as many readers were likely to talk about an advertisement and pass on its information after seeing it in their local paper than hearing it on local radio. Twice as many readers considered newspapers providers of information they couldn’t find elsewhere, when compared to local television, radio or letterbox flyers.
The study also found community newspapers were instrumental in offering reliable and unbiased information. Part of this stems from their position campaigning on issues of local importance to their communities. Readers were found to be 60 per cent more likely to trust newspapers as a source of information than local television.
Readers also actively engage with community newspapers by seeking out information and offers within them. Ten times as many readers were likely to visit a store after seeing it in a community newspaper ad than hearing about it via social media. Four times as many readers make a note of an advertisement seen in a newspaper than on local television.
Regional newspapers were found to be driving the regional agenda and protecting the interests of readers. Because of this, 81 per cent of readers consider newspapers an important source of information on their local area – six times that of letterbox flyers and almostdouble that of local television or radio.
One respondent said: “if you don’t read the (regional) paper, you won’t have anything to talk about”, while another agreed: “If you don’t read it, you’ll miss out on what’s on”.
The role of papers in campaigning on issues of community important was likewise detected in reader testaments about their regional newspapers. Twice as many readers said regional newspapers stood up for important local issues than for local television.
By driving important issues in their areas, regional newspapers play an important role fuelling conversations. Twice as many readers said they were likely to talk about an advertisement in a regional newspaper as one found on local television, radio or letterbox flyers. The same number of readers likewise said newspapers provided information they couldn’t easily find elsewhere.
Regional newspapers were also seen as more reliable and unbiased than other media with 71 per cent of newspaper readers believing their area would be worse off without regional newspapers.
By offering a hands-on authoritative source of information, twice as many readers concentrated on newspaper content than they did with local television.
Interviews with readers in community and regional areas highlight the extent to which readers rely on their local newspaper to keep their community strong and how much they would miss their absence.
The study encompassed 33 in-depth interviews and 1210 online surveys with community and regional newspaper readers.
The full research study including charts and downloadable PDFs is available at: www.thenewspaperworks.com.au