Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Community newspapers still strong, especially if they have interactive Web sites, Calif. editor says

"The death of newspapers has been greatly exaggerated," and that's especially true when it comes to community papers, writes Jeff Pelline, right, editor of The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., population 11,000. That's in Nevada County, pop. 92,000, where Interstate 80 enters the state and cuts through the Sierra Nevada.

"At profitable community papers such as The Union, circulation is strong and Web traffic is growing sharply, because we provide unique local information that is now the "sweet spot" of journalism. Bigger papers are following suit in some cases, focusing on so-called hyperlocal journalism
," writes Pelline, a former editor at CNET, a technology news outlet. "Though paid print circulation has been sliding (for decades, in fact), readership -- as measured by combined print and online audiences - in most cases is growing. In this sense, the Web has been a boon for newspapers (at least ones with interactive Web sites). . . . Newspapers have to work harder to make their Web sites more profitable. But a growing, interactive readership is a big plus, compared with most radio and TV stations. "

The Union is owned by Reno-based Swift Communications, which publishes newspapers in California, Oregon, Nevada and Colorado, and farmer-rancher publications in Nebraska and South Dakota. Pelline is among a group of California editors and journalism professors who recently made recommendations for changes in journalism education to match "the changing media landscape," as he put it. "
As a group, we conceded that too many journalists and journalism professors resist change, even though they teach and write about change almost daily." To read the recommendations and the rest of his column, click here.

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