According to the Al-Jazeera news website, the number of daily newspapers in operation throughout the country between 1990 and 2014 has dropped by around 300. Between 2012 and 2013, nearly 1,300 full-time newspaper journalists lost their jobs and those jobs were never refilled. Big cities like New Orleans, LA and Oakland, CA have lost their printed daily newspapers to the digital age and it is highly unlikely that those large cities will ever see a local daily printed newspaper ever again.
From the looks of things, it looks like the Internet is consuming daily newspapers and making the idea of a daily printed newspaper obsolete. So then how does anyone explain the fact that the town of Crawfordsville, IN, with its population of only 15,000 people, still has two very vibrant and active daily papers? Despite big cities losing their printed dailies, many small towns are finding their daily newspapers to be very healthy and operating. The reasons why small towns are able to retain their printed daily papers are not as complicated as you may think.
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Local News Is Still A Dominant Need
According to MinnPost.com, the number of adults who still read local print daily newspapers has actually been on the rise. In 2005, it was estimated that 81 percent of adults bought and read daily printed local papers, but that number increased to 86 percent by 2008. This shows that local news is extremely important to people and the only place they can get their local news is from their printed newspapers.
Small Towns Have The Right Demographic
One of the major reasons why small town printed daily newspapers have been able to hang on for so long is that most of the small towns in the United States are made up of older populations. After years of buying the local newspaper to read the news, most consumers are not about to change their habits and as the aging population grows, the popularity of these printed dailies grows as well.
But that age advantage newspapers have cannot last forever. According to City-Data.com, the media age in Crawfordsville has dropped to 36.6 years old, which is now below the Indiana state median by almost five full years. As the older generation passes on, small town daily newspapers, and possibly the small towns themselves, could be in trouble.
For now, towns like Crawfordsville, IN enjoy the luxury of getting two sides of every story from their two printed daily newspapers. But as younger people move into Crawfordsville and the older population passes on, the likelihood that both printed dailies will survive is unlikely.
The story is one that will be repeated all over the country as small towns see their median ages drop and their desire for printed news drop as well. There may come a point when the residents of Crawfordsville get their news from an online source but, for now, both printed dailies in Crawfordsville have managed to avoid the axe that has befallen so many other printed newspapers around the country.