We recently wrapped up a subscription drive offering a 9mm carbine rifle as the main prize and saw our total circulation remain a very stable, 6,300 for our print, plus another 300 who pay to read the paper online. Daily usage at our free website is all over the board depending on what news is breaking.
Our print readers are down from our peak. As a comparison when north Georgia was booming and the internet was still in its infancy, the highest circulation we ever reached was around 8,000. We wish we were still there but, unlike what befall some of the daily papers, the weeklies have remained pretty strong. The difference is weeklies serve a population that relies on local papers and reporters to tell what was happening down the road while the mid-sized dailies were too-often full of national news which could easily be found online.
The Progress is not unusual as a weekly, holding its own in the face of online news, fake news and general doomsday predictions about the print industry. A survey of Georgians conducted by American Opinion Research in 2016 found most, non-metro weeklies are doing well.
Here’s a few of the survey results, which was commissioned by the Ga. Press Association:
• Georgia newspaper products have a wide reach. Two-thirds of all adults, more than 4.7 million people, read a printed newspaper or access a newspaper website during an average week.
• Newspapers and their websites are the most used source of local news and information. 34 percent of respondents said the newspaper is their prime source of information (26 percent in the metro area; 43 percent outside the metro area).
Georgia consumers rely on printed newspapers and their websites more than any other source for local sales and shopping information, in both the Atlanta metro area and the rest of the state. (In the metro area, 30 percent of respondents said that the newspaper was their top choice for advertising information; this jumps to 41 percent outside the metro area).
• On average, two adults read each copy of a weekly newspaper.
• More than 1.3 million Georgia adults use a newspaper website daily, almost 2.8 million during an average week.
• Almost six-in-10 readers (59%) keep their newspapers three days or longer, almost four-in-10 (38%) keep it until the next issue arrives. The average shelf-life: 2.8 days.
If you are surprised by these figures, realize that the survey also found:
• Newspapers do a very poor job at marketing themselves and their content. Very little has been done by the industry to correct the idea that print was doomed.
At the Progress, like any business, we wish we had a few more regular customers (both advertisers and subscribers). But we will guarantee that the idea that newspapers are dying off in rural areas is utter nonsense.
The April 27th edition of the Progress marked our 130th year of publication. Who knows if we’ll get another 130, that’s a mighty long time and things do change (not nearly as quickly as big cities like to think), but we’re confident that we won’t be going anywhere too soon.
We appreciate the community support here and are proud to be your hometown source of news.