If newspapers don’t understand that they need to go all-in digital and mobile, then the most recent Pew survey on journalism and readership takes a Louisville Slugger to their heads.
Greensboro isn’t alone in the single digits of local news preference. Both Raleigh (6 percent) and Charlotte (8 percent) have larger markets and larger newsrooms. In fairness, I know that all three newsrooms are working toward digital first practices. The N&O and Observer, in particular, are aggressively pursuing a digital strategy with traffic measures, strong social media linking, filing stories online days before they are in print, etc.
The N.C. papers are low, too, in comparison with their national counterparts. There,13 percent of adults prefer to get their news in print. And of those 13 percent, 43 percent tend to get that news digitally, on the screen or on their phones. If this doesn’t say that papers need to up their game on those formats, then I don’t know how to read.
Looking at the chart on the importance of local news topics, it’s pretty clear why television news is the dominant leader in how people prefer to get their news. No. 1 topic is weather. No. 2 crime. No. 3 traffic and transportation. They are all staples of television newscasts. Newspaper coverage priorities — government, politics and schools are Nos. 5 and 6. Sports — which often gets an entire newspaper section — is No. 11.
Thirty percent of Greensboro folks say they often get local news from online sites and apps, and 26 percent from social media. While figures aren’t available for earlier years, this has to be growing. And this has to be where newspapers devote even more energy.
It’s not all bad news. Speaking of local news media in general, it appears as if Greensboro doesn’t consider local journalists “enemies of the people” or “fake news.”
Read the entire survey. It’s comprehensive; I’ve only looked at pieces so far.
A final telling note, from Ken Doctor’s story on the L.A. Times, quoting its billionaire owner Patrick Soon-Shiong: “So my concern was editorial, the newsroom. That was my very, very, very first concern. I knew that that’s where I needed to go as my first and highest priority. My second priority now is the business model, but the business model, sadly — and I don’t mean this to sound in any way arrogant — has to be consistent with this next generation, not with the past generation.”
Oh, if there were only more billionaire owners that aren’t corporations.