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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