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Age Differences For Alternate Media Use

How Different Age Groups Use and Want Their News
by Howard D. Gaddy
Knight Fellow in Community Journalism, University of Alabama
[Download the research report]

When I was a general assignment reporter for a small daily in Jasper, Ala., the entire newsroom staff was called into the managing editor’s office to get our legs striped about wasting time on Facebook.  Had someone told me this extremely effective time-waster would be a major news tool in the next few years, I would have smiled politely and started slowly stepping away.

Shortly after I left the newspaper, however, that’s exactly what happened.  The assistant managing editor, James Phillips, got a promotion, and he started using the site as a way to provide breaking news to readers.

Within a year the small newspaper gained 2,699 Facebook followers, compared to the 4,071 Facebook followers of al.com, the online home for Alabama’s three largest newspapers. Read the rest of this entry »

Alabama Newspaper Readers’ Mobile News Appetites

By Gigi Alford
Knight Fellow in Community Journalism, University of Alabama
[Download the research report]

Breaking local news is becoming modus operandi at The Huntsville Times. Following a series of fast-developing events in the early months of 2010, including tornadoes, severe winter weather and two school shootings, the newsroom staff is emerging as a force to be reckoned with on the Internet.

“This has been an exceptional year in terms of breaking news that got us prepared for the major 24-hour news cycle,” said Times social media editor Niki Doyle.

The Times is Alabama’s third largest metro daily newspaper with a daily circulation of 54,675 and Sunday circulation of 74,560, according to the Alabama Press Association. It was the first media source to break the news on February 12, 2010, of University of Alabama in Huntsville professor Amy Bishop gunning down her colleagues in a faculty meeting.  National reports attributed the information to the Times’ story, posted to the Web nearly an hour before local competitors reported on the shootings. Read the rest of this entry »

Untapped: African-American Mobile Users And The News

By Kiri Lanice Walton
Knight Fellow in Community Journalism, University of Alabama
[Download the research report]

In their search for new revenue and readers, news executives can look to an unexpected emerging market: minorities, and more specifically, African-Americans.  In a new survey of about 1,000 Alabama newspaper readers, 90 percent of whom were white and nearly 10 percent were non-white, minority participants more than whites had favorable views toward online and mobile news delivery.

Minorities reported being more likely than whites to download and use a mobile application if their newspapers offered one.  Minorities also reported that they prefer the Web to read their local newspapers more than the print version, as opposed to whites in the survey who prefer to get their local news from the printed newspaper more than the Web.

The Alabama research, an online survey conducted by Knight Fellows in Community Journalism at the University of Alabama, is imperfect because of the small number of survey responses from non-white newspaper readers. Still, the state findings are in line with the results of national research data. Read the rest of this entry »

Forging New Paths to News in Alabama

Wants And Preferences In Mobile Delivery
By Caitlin Bonner
Knight Fellow in Community Journalism, University of Alabama
[Download the research report]

When Oxford senior Erica Deramous was suspended for wearing a prom dress that violated her high school’s dress code, she became a multimedia phenomenon.

The story, written by Patrick McCreless and published in The Anniston Star’s print edition, also was featured on The Star’s website, Twitter and Facebook feeds, and garnered 157 comments on the website. Follow-up tweets from readers kept the story alive on the website for six weeks.

Multimedia director for The Star, Justin Thurman, said it is one of the most shared stories the paper had in early 2010.  “We pick the things we think will have the farthest reaching audience or will generate the most discussion. Anything strange or controversial will get linked a good deal from our Twitter and Facebook sites,” Thurman said. Read the rest of this entry »

Alabama’s Alternate Offerings: Adequate or Lacking?

By Shea Zirlott
Knight Fellow in Community Journalism, University of Alabama
[Download the content analysis]

Most Alabama newspapers so far are failing to use many new ways to reach readers with digital tools such as Facebook and Twitter and mobile apps.

This finding is from a new survey of the 123 member newspapers of the Alabama Press Association that was conducted in early February 2010 by the Knight Fellows in Community Journalism at the University of Alabama.

Not one of the newspapers surveyed was using all the tools on a list that included RSS, Twitter, Facebook, email alerts and mobile applications. In some instances, a tool may be present but not utilized to its full potential. This means, for instance, that a newspaper in Alabama has a Twitter account that is advertised on its website, but the newspaper has never tweeted or followed anyone. Out of the 123 member newspapers of the Alabama Press Association, 97 had functioning websites. Those 97 newspapers were further analyzed for their use of other digital tools. Read the rest of this entry »

Print is not Dead

By Aziza Jackson
Knight Fellow in Community Journalism, University of Alabama
[Download the research report]

There is still life in print news.  A new survey of almost 1,000 Alabama news consumers found about 43 percent of them preferred to get their local news from print editions of the Alabama newspapers they read most regularly. An equal percent preferred to receive their news from the Web sites of the newspapers.  Here is the shocker: The survey was administered online, but even this Web-friendly audience responded positively to the print editions.

This finding may surprise some, but not all.  An overwhelming majority of 21 Alabama community newspaper editors and publishers interviewed agreed that print news remains alive and well.  Some said the idea of print’s demise is myth—a non-applicable prediction that separates the future of larger metropolitan newspapers from smaller community newspapers of Alabama.  Others were sure print news is in a state of evolution—a product of a changing world that now consists of technology-driven consumers that rely on the most up-to-date information available to them.

“With the demise of print journalism when radio became popular, and the demise of print journalism when television became popular, and the demise of print journalism when Internet became popular, am I looking at a Frankenstein monster?” said Goodloe Sutton, Sr., editor and publisher of the Democrat-Reporter in Linden, Ala. Read the rest of this entry »

How Credible are Alabama Newspapers?

Print and Web Readers Differ
By Brett Bralley
Knight Fellow in Community Journalism, University of Alabama
[Download the research report]

Alabama readers who mostly get their news from the newsprint-and-ink version that lands on the lawn seem to trust their newspaper more, while those who primarily turn to the Web format seem to have less confidence in their newspaper.

This is what about a thousand Alabama newspaper readers indicated in an online survey that they chose to answer in March and April 2010. The survey, which was conducted by the Knight Fellows in Community Journalism at the University of Alabama, asked readers questions about their use of their newspaper, how they got their news, and what they valued in terms of digital and mobile media. The survey was voluntary and only given online, therefore it likely reached newspaper readers who frequented the Web more often and who were more Web savvy.

Readers were asked to indicate how credible they found their newspapers as well as indicate which format of their papers they used the most often. The data revealed that while respondents generally trusted their newspapers, their levels of confidence varied depending on which media format they used. Read the rest of this entry »

About ComJ

The University of Alabama’s one-year Master’s Program in Community Journalism, or ComJ, encourages students to think critically about the role news plays in community and to explore new ways to serve communities through the evolving practices of journalism.

Read more about the ComJ program.

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