It’s no secret that the last several years have been challenging ones for newspapers. But what has been overlooked amid this climate of concern is a comforting fact: local newspapers are carrying out their vital role with the same vigor and courage and sense of responsibility as has always been their tradition. Here in Virginia, newspapers and online outlets are providing local readers with consistently excellent journalism. They are invested in their communities and shining an illuminating spotlight on the people and issues that are important to us.
The combined circulation of the 158 print and online daily and weekly newspapers throughout the commonwealth is 3.2 million. For a state with 5.3 million adults, those numbers suggest that a vast majority of Virginians recognize the value of their local newspapers.
Our research into the matter confirms it.
Last year, the Virginia Press Association retained the Richmond research firm SIR to poll attitudes toward newspapers in Virginia, and the results – based on more than 5,000 responses from across the state – revealed high levels of trust and confidence in local newspapers.
Let’s not bury the lead any further: The research indicated the most useful source of news for survey respondents is their local newspaper. More than TV or radio news. More than national newspapers or magazines. And yes, more than social media sites.
I’ll dig deeper into the results of the SIR research in future blog posts, but you can find the full results in the report.
It’s time we started recognizing local newspapers for their role in informing their communities, in keeping them connected to what matters. One way to do that is to help informed citizens like you access the best in local news, and that is what the Virginia News Reader (VNR) hopes to do.
In addition to a collection of articles, the Virginia News Reader also will deliver additional information, insights and opinions related to local newspapers. You’ll find regular blogs from me and various editors and publishers around the state. We’ll dig deeper into the story behind the story and how reporters got the interviews by talking to local journalists who wrote these articles. And we’ll share thoughts about issues related to newspapers that we think will interest you.
In many ways, we think of VNR as a celebration of local newspapers in Virginia. And from my view at the Virginia Press Association, it’s a celebration that has been long overdue.
We hope you enjoy this new outlet. Make sure to sign up here to get VNR delivered to your inbox twice a week. Please let us know what you think.