Sunday, August 12, 2012

The state of the weekly newspaper industry: healthy, more rural, not as digital as it could be

Between 1997 and 2009, the community weekly newspaper industry became dramatically more rural and more dominated by group ownership, according to a research paper, "The State of the Weekly Newspaper Industry," presented today at journalism educators' annual convention in Chicago. (Because of an error in the conclusions section, an earlier version of this item said it had become less rural.)

Fifteen years ago, 45 percent of weeklies were defined as rural, being in a city or town with fewer than 10,000 people; in 2009, the rural share was 67 percent. The suburban share fell to 21 percent, from 46 percent. Average circulation declined for weeklies based in metropolitan central cities, but grew for those in rural and suburban or "micropolitan" areas, with cities of populations between 10,000 and 50,000.

The study found that the share of weeklies that were group owned increased by about half, to 62 percent, since 1997. Research presented in 2004, using different methodology by different researchers, showed group ownership at 58 percent.

Roughly two-thirds of weeklies had websites in 2009, but only about 6 percent allowed visitors to directly upload articles, and about 6 percent had paywalls, the latest study found. That number appears to have increased greatly in the past year or two, but the research only went through 2009.

The study was presented by Stephen Lacy of Michigan State University at the convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. His co-authors were Daniel Riffe of the University of North Carolina, David Coulson of Jackson State University and Robin Blom of Michigan State. For a PDF of the paper, click here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The study incorrectly states daily newspaper ad revenue in 2010 as being $25.8 million. It was actually $25.8 billion.