Opinion: survey shows continued popularity of newspapers

Minnesota newspapers and their websites are valued for their readership and advertising results, according to a survey hot off the press.

Results of a survey, conducted by Scarborough researchers for the Minnesota Newspaper Association, show that in almost every category of news and buying decisions, newspapers and their websites are the first choice for information.

While it’s true that younger readers get information from smartphones, apps and social media, those readers 35 years and older overwhelmingly prefer newspapers in just about every news and advertising category, survey results show.

The researchers found that newspapers and their websites during a typical month reach 89 percent of the state’s residents and 78 percent in an average week.

The weekly community newspapers have 51 percent readership, mirroring the 49 percent of Sunday readership. Taking results of community, Sunday and weekday readership together, the net print readership is 71 percent.

Responses in the survey showed newspaper advertising is valued: More than two-thirds (69 percent) of Minnesotans surveyed said newspaper advertising is important.

These numbers are meaningful because they torpedo the beliefs that newspaper advertising is going out of style.

Consider these other findings from the survey.

Coupons are used by 74 percent, with 55 percent of respondents saying they most likely get them from newspapers.

The biggest eye-opener in the survey is the high ranking of newspapers on consumer purchases.

For example, 59 percent bought home improvement merchandise, and of that percentage, 92 percent say they were reached by Minnesota newspapers. More than half (56 percent) bought lawn and garden equipment, with 93 percent saying they were reached by newspapers. In every purchase category – new and used vehicles, furniture and real estate sales – the reach of newspapers was over 90 percent.

Newspapers are preferred as the source for all those glossy inserts.

The newspaper is the preferred source by far for useful information about community schools, high school sports, things to do, local crime news, making voting decisions and local government news.

ECM Publishers prides itself in publishing more local community news than any other media company in the state because the leadership believes news closest to you matters and adds to your quality of life.

Readership surveys show that you read and depend on your weekly community newspaper and its website for information and analysis more than any other source.

Of course, some say this is all self-serving information from a survey conducted for the MNA. And you might say that you can do anything with figures.

You need to know that 1,005 adults were surveyed by telephone in 12-minute English language interviews. The survey included 800 random-digit-dial interviews, 150 cellphone interviews and 50 oversamples (that is, additional interviews of a subgroup for more reliable data) with residents 18-34.

I began by saying newspaper readership and advertising results are better than you’ve been led to believe. I just thought you’d like to know there is another side to the story, and we intend to tell it. The numbers are on our side.  — Don Heinzman, ECM Publishers (Editor’s note: Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers.) 

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