Newspapers need to teach readers and advertisers the importance of the local markets

Make your plans now to hear Peter Wagner at the 2018 KPA Winter Convention. He’ll be doing three sessions on Friday, January 26.

His sessions will be:

* Digital ads work best when partnered with print

* 100 Ideas for Fun and Profit

* Building a Better Community

 

 

There are times when it seems that every local business is turning to the internet in the belief it is free and the only way to connect with younger Americans. It is a movement, say so-called experts, that will bring an end to the newspaper industry.

But why is the negative emphasis always on newspapers? I don’t remember when I last listened to a traditional radio station. I’ve got Sirius XM in all my vehicles and on my computer at the office. With a just a few keystrokes I can bring Pandora up on my household computer and have any kind of music I desire flowing into every room of my home.

I hardly ever watch traditional network television. All my favorite television programs are shown on one of my cable channels: the Travel Channel, A&E, USA. the Food Channel or Netflix. Television news coverage from our two closest over-the-air stations means little since those stations concentrate on the events taking place in their metro city and hardly ever report on anything happening in my local market.

Recently I signed up for Facebook and was quickly deluged by my new “friends” with dozens of suggested musical snippets I should watch on YouTube. I found myself clicking around my computer keyboard long past bedtime that night discovering concert quality musical selections by some of my favorite artists. Who needs to buy musical DVD recordings?
So why does the media – especially metro market newspapers – only forecast tough times for the newspaper industry? Perhaps it is because although we deal in the creation and sale of quality advertising, we don’t do well advertising our unique story. We’re like the cobbler whose kids go to school in shoddy shoes.

The total 2018 dollars spent on advertising is forecast to increase by 7.6%. The greatest amount of those dollars will come from the 98 percent of retailers that are considered small businesses.

That potential increase is the good news. The bad news is the amount spent with newspapers will fall 10.3%.

NEWSPAPERS CREATE COMMUNITY

America’s towns and cities need newspapers if they want a real sense of community.

There was a time when most towns had five strong anchors to give local citizens a sense of belonging: Local banks, an active Chamber of Commerce, a good local school system, a strong retail shopping area and the local newspaper.

Today the newspaper is the only one of the five that still exists in many smaller towns. The banks have become nothing more than branches of conglomerates that make most decisions from many miles away. Wal-Mart and other box stores have usurped the role of locally involved family-owned businesses and the loss of those hometown stores has led to the closing of many local Chambers of Commerce.

Local schools, meanwhile, aren’t local anymore. The future suggests they will continue to consolidate, taking the heart and soul out of towns that once had their own school buildings, sports programs and local supporters that regularly gathered together to cheer on their local football, basketball or baseball team.

The local newspaper is the only promoter of community that still exists. Newspapers are the business and public service cheerleaders. Newspapers continue to be the explainers of how some specific government actions affect the community. Local newspapers are the original recorders of every town or city’s social and cultural history.

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