Don’t Count Newspapers Out Just Yet …

For any PR pro who has jumped on the bandwagon and thinks that newspapers no longer matter, I urge you to read a great report just out from the Poynter Institute. The report sought to measure the total online and print reach of newspapers in their local markets, and the results may surprise you.

First: newspapers still reach a massive audience. The combined local market reach (online and print) of the top-20 newspapers is 47,370,687. That’s 15 percent of the U.S.’ 307 million population. (Note: The Wall Street Journal and USA Today were excluded because their local market isn’t clearly defined.)

via Poynter.org

I don’t know about you, but if I’m able to tap into even a sliver of that size of an audience, I’m absolutely going to give newspapers a bit more of my attention going forward.

Perhaps most surprising, however, is which papers tops the list: it’s the New York Daily News at 4,56248. Long locked in a battle with its New York City tabloid rival, Rupert Murdoch’s beloved New York Post, the Daily News even beats out the vaunted New York Times. (As a New York City resident, I don’t find this too surprising. The Times tends to cover NYC as more of an afterthought.)

Second: While print circulation in the U.S. continues to fall (down 5 percent in the six-month period ended Sept. 30, 2010), combined print-plus-digital reach of newspapers is on the rise.

What does this portend for the PR industry and those who are tasked with pitching our hearts out?

For one thing, newspapers are absolutely going to remain relevant and will continue to be an important source of information for consumers. Yes, the Pew Project for Excellent in Journalism report, just out two weeks ago, found that for the first time, more people (41%) get their new online than via newspapers (34%).

But here again, we cast aside newspapers at our own peril. As Pew noted last year, a staggering 99% of links in blog posts were to legacy media outlets (read: print newspapers). Fifty percent of links on Twitter are to the same.

So, are newspaper dead? If these numbers are any indication, I’d say not a chance. They are just morphing into more vibrant forms of media. Just like PR’s value continues to grow and change over time.

Happy pitching!

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