Local publications thrive in diminishing newspaper business

As seen in all of our journalism classes, the newspaper industry business model for major news media has been declining. However, as pointed out by Jim Romenesko on Poynter, the small papers for local communities have been recording record profits.

Weekly publications that cover the day-to-day happenings of the town have been the successful model. The focus is on highlighting the attributes of those within the community, not uncovering scandals and sensationalizing events.

Judy Muller, professor of journalism at USC,  points out the “holy trinity” of small publications being “high school sports, obituaries…and police blotters.” While these weekly papers have been shown to do very well, they are often underreported in this turbulent time for journalists.

The average news consumer seems to only hold interest in what is happening in his/her vicinity and what is happening at the national/international scale. For papers meeting in the middle for regional coverage, they seem to face the worst decline in revenue.

The appeal of the local publications is the relationship the reader can have with the subjects of the articles. When a subscriber can see the latest deeds of his/her neighbor or family friend, they are more likely to continue reading and rely on this source for information it can’t find anywhere else.

What is the reason for this increase in local newspaper revenue? Will major, national/international publications be able to stay afloat with the reader turning more to local publications? And how will this affect the overall worldliness of a society that focuses more on the community than the globe?

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