Local newspapers are a trusted source of information in communities across Canada. They continue to be the preferred source for local news and information, with a clear preference for the printed product. Local information is the main reason for reading community newspapers, followed by advertising.
A survey conducted early this year by Totum Research on behalf of News Media Canada, in partnership with the Department of Canadian Heritage, showed that Canadians in general are adapting to the various media platforms available to them these days. In spite of the prophecies that the printed page is becoming obsolete, the survey showed that this is far from the case. While more adults continue to embrace technology to read newspaper content, 6 out of 10 adults continue to access print editions. But one-third of all adults access their community newspaper on all four platforms: print, desktop/laptop, phone and tablet, and this is true across every demographic. In fact, 88% of Canadians read a newspaper on one or the other platform each week.
Across Canada, 27% of people use their community newspaper as their preferred source for news, compared to 10% using social media, 8% radio, and 7% who use the local town website. The digital revolution has transformed the role of community newspapers and how they are used. The percentage of readers who read the paper on-line is only slightly less than those who prefer the print copy. The main reason for reading, in both print and digital platforms, continues to be something that can be hard to find anywhere else: LOCAL information, in various forms (news, sports, entertainment, events, crime, obituaries). The breakdown between digital and print formats is also interesting. More people prefer the print edition for local news, events, editorial content and entertainment/cultural material; whereas the majority prefer on-line formats for local sports and advertising, or classified ads.
Advertising, in fact, is the reason why half of those surveyed read their community newspaper. Of those looking at ads in their community newspaper, 79% become aware of a product, sale or service, according to the survey, and this results in 68% of them buying a product or service. While most do further research on-line or in person following seeing the ad in the paper, another 53% refer the ad to someone else.
The overall take-away from the survey is that community newspapers are not going away. On the contrary, they remain the preferred choice for Canadians for news, local information and marketing choices. For more information, go to www.newsmediacanada.ca.