Opinion

Then, where would we be?

By Jim Dickerson
National Newspaper Week was observed last week, Oct. 2-8. We were busy with some other upcoming special weeks and a variety of news. I didn’t editorialize about this special week at the time, so I’m doing it now.
In this day and age of electronic commuication and social media, there are still many who value their LOCAL newspapers.
Readers access local news in a variety of ways, and we’ve provided several ways to deliver it.
For example, our own newspapers, The Albion News/Boone County Tribune and Petersburg Press, not only have print editions but have a news website, www.albionnewsonline.com, also e-editions (the newspaper through your e-mail) and some postings on social media.
Our landscape has changed over the past couple of decades. We try to reach readers in all these different ways. It takes considerable staff time to engage in these various platforms, but we do that because we know they are being used.
Only some of these platforms produce revenue. Others are provided only as a service.

Periodically, we have discussions about our weekly print and digital circulation to get a handle on where we are and what steps to take next. I talked with a consultant about this recently, and he came up with the following analysis:
AN/BCT print and e-edition circulation ranks well among Nebraska weekly newspapers (currently in the top 25 of all of the state’s weeklies) at an average of 1,450 to 1,500 copies a week, and we have about 200 e-edition subscribers.
Studies show that each copy of a weekly newspaper is typically read by an average of 2.5 people per week. So, we have about 4,325 “readers” of our print and e-editions each week.
Our average weekly website readership is 3,700.
If you add the two together, our total “reach” is 8,025 in a county of about 5,500 residents. The consultant said: That ain’t bad at all!

Weekly newspapers like ours make an effort every week to provide content that matters — whether it’s coverage of your local town board, the county board, or the latest business developments and park improvements.
Local newspapers are committed to being the local government watchdog, but we want to cover the special features about people in the community as well.
Your newspaper is local, produced by local citizens who drive the same streets and shop in the same stores. The local newspaper’s focus is on making the community stronger, safer and healthier. Our concerns are similar to those of other area residents. Our goal is to produce a quality product that reports the news fairly and accurately.

There are media “experts” out there who have been predicting the demise of local newspapers for 30 years or more.
I remember in the 1970s, some newspapers in our state, including the Albion News, published a blank front page with a small statement in the center. It said: LAST ISSUE.
Of course, there was an explanation inside the newspaper that said the front page statement wasn’t true; but it was intended to get people thinking.
What if it had been true? Then, where would we all be?