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Rural newspapers doing better than major metros

Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West today posted a story, essay and map on community newspapers in the United States, and the conclusion is that while major metro papers are declining, “rural journalism is surviving, even thriving.”

Some facts in the report by Geoff McGhee jump out:

• 80% of dailies are owned by chains compared to 60% of community weeklies;

• Many community weeklies don’t have websites, and their print editions generally don’t face online competition. “Craigslist doesn’t serve these kinds of communities. They have no effective competition for local news. Rural papers own the franchise locally of the most credible information,” said Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky.

• “[T]he holy trinity of the small town paper is obituaries, the police blotter, and high school sports,” said Judy Muller, a USC professor and former broadcast journalist who wrote a book about small-town newspapers.

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