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This National Newspaper Week, Oct. 6-12, is a good time to point out just how important the local newspaper is to an informed community.

Bill Rogers, executive director of the S.C. Press Association, the organization of the state’s daily and weekly newspapers, points out that a study just released shows local newspapers significantly outperform local TV, radio and online-only outlets in news production, both in overall story output and in terms of stories that are original, local and address a critical information need.

Leave no child behind

The study, sponsored by Duke University’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy and the News Measures Research Project, found that local newspapers produced 60% of all local news – more than all of the other outlet types combined – while accounting for only 25% of the outlets measured.

In The T&D Region, newspapers account for an even higher percentage of local news:

Consider The T&D’s reach:

• Website total – 275,000 unique visitors, 2.25 million pageviews monthly.

• Mobile devices – 201,000 unique visitors, 1.5 million pageviews monthly.

• Social media – 20,215 Facebook followers, 3,234 Twitter followers.

• Print – 14,571 Sunday readership, 14,106 daily readership.

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Based on the size of the audience alone, it is clear that local people consider local news important and know where to find it. Even so, there remain those declining to support local newsgathering even as they contend there is not enough local coverage. Reporters cannot work for free.

Gracious! Here we go again

Rogers writes:

“Despite smaller staffs at many newspapers, reporters are still out there covering what your local government and school board are doing, informing you about how your tax dollars are being spent and updating you on crime and law enforcement activities.

“Reporters are also on the sidelines of your local high school football games, covering community festivals and writing about what local churches, clubs and groups are doing.

“Newspapers are the public record on life events such as births, weddings and deaths.

“They also provide important public notices so you’ll know if a bar or hog farm is opening in your neighborhood.

“Through advertising, newspapers help local merchants sell their wares and services.”

Some say newspapers won’t be around eventually in the information age. They are wrong. Amid an explosion of information available from so many sources today, there will continue to be a need for local journalists devoted to gathering credible local news. The way that news is presented continues to evolve, but it is important to people no matter how they receive the news.

We conclude with another Rogers quote: “Please don’t let the current politicized attacks on the mainstream media impact your support of main street media in South Carolina. Communities with a local newspaper are stronger, more informed and less corrupt, so subscribe to your local paper — either in print or online – and support their important work.”

You can subscribe to The Times and Democrat and TheTandD.com by calling 803-533-516-6107 or visiting our website and clicking on “Become a member.”

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