Given that we are now f irmly entrenched in the ‘ digita l age’ – with eyeballs inevitably glued to some sort of screen most of the day – we have become accustomed to hearing about the ‘ death of print’, the end of books and newspapers, and the sad demise of anything paper-based. Newspapers, in particular, are regarded to have a l l but died out. Yet amid all this doom and gloom, we appear to have a star performer in the form of local, communit y newspapers. Unlike t heir national counterparts, these community papers, according to recent research, are experiencing phenomenal growth.
T h e Compa s s 2 4 local newspaper study – c ommissioned by Ads24 and conducted by i ndependent market research company Ask Afrika – def ined local newspapers as free newspapers circulated within specif ic communities. In contrast to national papers, these local newspapers ref lect content that is “individualised and relevant to each respective community they serve”. The content is seldom national, and focuses on what is happening within a specific community.
“Local newspapers are very much alive with both breadth and depth in terms of readership,” says Sarina de Beer, MD of Ask Afrika. “Community print is seeing double- digit growth, which more than makes up for declines in national papers.”
So what makes these community papers so appealing, apart from the fact that they are free? COMMUNITY- CENTRIC ENGAGEMENT “Besides t he z ero cost associated with uptake, the top three sections of interest to readers (community news; crime and policing updates; municipal and local Government news) ref lect the relevance of community-centric engagement,” e x pl a i ns De Beer. “Readers want to be in the know with regard to the immediate communities they live in.”
According to Ask Afrika, the need for community-centric engagement, which is both a local and global trend, is creating a massive opportunity for marketers and advertisers.
I ndeed, t he Compass24 s t udy revealed that readers are very interest-