Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Oct. 18 webinar will show why print weeklies are still viable

Christina Smith discussed her research at the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors conference in July.
Why do some small-town weekly newspapers that rely on print continue to be viable in the digital era? A webinar Oct. 18 from 2 to 3 p.m. ET, by a scholar who spent half of her 15-year newspaper career at weeklies, will offer some answers.

In "The Community's Perception(s): State of U.S. Print Weekly Newspapering in the 21st Century," Christina Smith of Georgia College and State University "argues that U.S. print weekly newspapers continue to be perceived by their audiences as the most relied upon news sources for the communities in which they serve because community members believe the local newspaper and its journalists and owners serve as community builders, produce relevant, truthful, local information, and are highly motivated by community needs in order to do their jobs – all of which have long been the foundational rules guiding community journalism," according to the webinar website.

Smith told the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors convention at Emory University in Atlanta this summer that her research focuses on newspapers of less than 5,000 circulation, which includes most U.S. papers. Her exploratory work in Georgia and Illinois asked readers their perception of their local newspaper's role, the relevancy of its content, and its level of trust, which was high. Most said their paper does a good job covering issues that are important to them, but most also wanted their paper to have a stronger online presence.

Smith will also share with viewers a survey tool she produced for her research that she believes other publishers can use in their own communities to better understand their readers' expectations.

Smith is an assistant communication professor who teaches journalism and researches rural journalism. She is an academic partner of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which publishes The Rural Blog. For more information or to register for the webinar, click here.

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