Local newspapers are essential to communities

GC&M News readers won’t be surprised that a recent national survey found local newspapers are essential to our community. However, what you may find interesting is that more than half of people who do not read local newspapers believe this as well.

A survey, conducted in July-August 2021, sought the views of 400 Facebook users who do not read a local newspaper about the role of local news within their communities.

Findings from the survey show that 64.5% of respondents considered a printed copy of a local newspaper as an essential service to their communities.

Just under half (48%) stated that if they ever did read a local newspaper they preferred to do so in print compared with online (33%) or via social media (13%).

The research targeted participants in areas which had independent local newspapers within the Country Press Australia (CPA) network, which includes GC&M News.

Deakin University Associate Professor Kristy Hess, who is leading the research, said the Facebook survey supported findings from a previous national study of local newspaper readers by her team last year highlighting a passion for the printed product.

“The fact that social media users examined here [in the latest survey] also indicate a preference for print is perhaps especially profound,” Professor Hess said.

Bruce Morgan, CPA executive director, said it was not just about the survival of local independent newspaper businesses but was “fundamental to community wellbeing and to basic democratic notions of accountability within those communities.”