Free Community Newspaper Month | Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

July is Free Community Newspaper Month. Like so many freedoms we celebrate during the month of July, the value of a free delivered community newspaper is one that should not be overlooked as it is a powerful resource that delivers true value each week to thousands of communities around the country.

Some may have you believe that “newspapers” are a dying instrument, and for some “newspapers” that may be true. In a recent trade article written by April Ort she notes: “The newspaper industry is beginning to see a shift in advertiser behavior as more national retailers choose to place their circular inserts with free community newspapers. Preliminary data compiled in 2013 by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) shows that national advertising in printed daily and Sunday newspapers has declined 8 percent in just one year.”

“Readers value the free community newspaper as much as if they had paid to receive it, perhaps even more so because they didn’t have to pay. In the pages of community papers readers find relevant information on local government, school districts, tax assessors, new businesses and community events. Free community newspaper advertising is a great value. It is inexpensive and it reaches a higher percentage of readers than daily newspapers. They aren’t throw away papers or junk mail. Readers appreciate the hyper-local news they can’t get from other sources.”

Our own local data confirms the research Ort has done. The locally focused content of free community newspapers is reflected in its circulation numbers. While many media are facing audience erosion incited by an eruption of choices, community newspapers like those published here in the North Country by Denton Publications and New Market Press have been able to maintain and increase readership.

Circulation Verification Council (CVC) is an independent auditing company that audits the readership of our community newspapers. According to the latest readership study compiled in September of 2013, 81.3 percent of people who receive this free community newspaper read it regularly and of those readers, 77.1 percent told CVC that they frequently purchase products and services from the ads within the newspaper.

Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at dan@newmarketpressvt.com or dan@denpubs.com.

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