Friday, July 08, 2011

Rural newspapers are doing fine, at least when compared to their metro cousins, writer discovers

"With newspaper ad sales falling at an unexpectedly abrupt rate, many publishers at mid-year were laying off staff, requiring unpaid furloughs, consolidating plants and taking other measures to buttress their bottom lines," Alan Mutter notes on his newspaper-industry blog, Reflections of a Newsosaur. But he's writing about daily newspapers, mainly those in metropolitan areas.

In contrast, "Rural journalism is surviving, even thriving," Geoff McGhee writes for the Rural West Initiative of the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University. The writer of this blog item, the director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, was a major source for Lane's report. He uses our definition of community newspapers, those with circulations of less than 30,000. But his report is not mainly figures; he also writes about community journalists "developing a relationship with the local readers that some people say that mainstream journalism has lost, a relationship with all the complications that intimacy and proximity bring."

McGhee also relies on Judy Muller, a former ABC News reporter who is a professor at the University of Southern California, and her new book, Emus Loose in Egnar: Big News from Small Towns. (We'll have a separate report on the book in a later blog item.) And near the end of his 3,238-word article, he quotes a Mutter blog post from March 15, 2010 about the business side of rural newspapering, perhaps threatened less by the Internet than population loss and other demographic changes. Rural papers may be doing well in relative terms, but they face many of the same challenges as metros. (Read more)

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