Newspaper readers are voters, and the annual readership survey of more than 1,000 people from rural and urban communities across the country once again validated that point.

The survey — conducted annually by Susquehanna Polling and Research of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — found that 85% of community newspaper readers said they are “very likely” to vote in elections in 2020. Further, respondents rated community newspapers as the most trusted source of information about candidates running for public office.

On a scale of 1 to 10, respondents rated how much they trusted a source’s information when it came to learning about candidates for public office. (A score of “1” means you don’t trust them at all, while 10 means you trust them a lot.)

• Community newspapers rated an average of 5.77 – 6.23 among readers – topping all mediums

• National network TV news – 5.13

• Cable TV news shows – 4.60

• Talk radio or satellite radio programs – 4.31

• Metropolitan newspapers that cover major cities and suburbs – 4.29

• Direct mailings from candidates or political parties – 3.73

• Facebook or Twitter – 2.92

When it comes to seeking out information about candidates for public office at the federal, state or local level, 68% of respondents turn to national network TV news “very or somewhat often,” closely followed by community newspapers (61%) and cable TV news programs (58%). Less than half of the respondents seek out direct mailings from candidates or political parties (42%), talk radio or satellite radio news program (38%), metropolitan newspapers that cover major cities and suburbs (33%) and Facebook or Twitter (29%) for information.

“Overall, great news for local community newspapers,” said NNA Vice President Matt Adelman, publisher of the Douglas (Wyoming) Budget. “[The results] show Facebook and even direct mail have far less impact and readership than the political consultants insist, especially on the trustworthy scale where our newspapers rank about even with national news programs, but far ahead of the rest of the pack.”

Other decisions

The survey, also found community newspapers are the leading source for shopping decisions and advertising content. 

For instance, 79% of respondents agree community newspapers “provide valuable local shopping and advertising information.” Further, 24% of respondents rate community newspapers as their go-to source for local purchasing decisions, beating out all other mediums.

• Social media platforms: 17%

• Direct mailings: 14%

• In store promotions: 12%

• Local TV stations 10%

• Radio ads: 4%

• Cable TV ads: 2%

• Metro newspapers: 1%

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