Small Market Newspapers – More Than You Think
A recent article written by Christopher Ali and Damian Radcliffe and published by The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, a research center exploring the ways in which technology is changing journalism, its practice and its consumption, contained some interesting trends.
I didn’t realize that of the 7,071 newspapers regularly published in the United States, including dailies and weeklies, 6,851 have circulations of less than 50,000.
Long live the community paper!
However, a survey of more than 400 journalists working at small-market publications seems to indicate that their professional challenges are not unlike those at larger media outlets.
There were some key findings that PR pros should pay attention to and understand when dealing with their media contacts. Among them:
- Shrinking newsrooms: More than half, 59 percent, of the survey participants said the number of staff in their newsroom had shrunk since 2014.
- Recruitment: Low pay, long hours, and limited opportunities for career progression can impede the attraction and retention of young journalists.
- A long-hours culture: Many respondents reported that they regularly work more than 50 hours a week.
- Job security: Just over half of respondents, 51 percent, said they feel secure in their positions. Twenty-nine percent had a neutral view (neither positive nor negative) about their job security.
Another interesting trend from the survey: video reporting is already mainstream at local newspapers, with 85 percent of respondents stating that their paper did this, as is organizational usage of Facebook and Twitter. Less popular for “newspapers” is podcasting, used by 25 percent of respondents’ newspapers and emerging tools like chat apps, or augmented and virtual reality.
I guess it’s not much different than broadcast reporters who are now posting “written” articles on their stations’ websites – all of which creates opportunities for savvy PR pros.