The Jamestown Gazette hit Chautauqua County newsstands with its first paper on Monday, April 11, 2011. That first issue entered a news world that was changing at a faster pace every year, but it was a challenge the Jamestown Gazette was ready to meet.
The Internet delivers news at the speed of light, competing with traditional news media that sum it all up on a daily basis. It has never been a better time for people who want to know what just happened across the nation and around the world. In the U.S., thousands of on-line sources and about 1,400 daily newspapers do it all.
Better Than the News?
But what’s better than the news? Reporting on what will happen next. It’s all about upcoming issues and events of local interest to neighborhoods and communities. The Jamestown Gazette is one of now more than 7,000 weekly newspapers, with an estimated circulation of 25 million in the U.S., specializing in just that. National and international news agencies, whether in print, on television or on the Internet, do not deliver the same service as a weekly newspaper.
Polls say hometown and local news tops the list of topics that interest readers most, only behind natural disasters and the weather. Since issue #1, the Jamestown Gazette has specialized in in-depth reporting about upcoming, important local events. Much more than “time and date” notices, however, the Gazette reports on the people behind the story. Their motives and passions, their personal stories and accomplishments make up the real story for Gazette readers. The Gazette aims wherever possible to increase local citizen involvement, participation and engagement with the people and the events that will build the community.
“I read the Gazette because I know so many of the people you report on,” said reader, Mrs. J.S of Lakewood, NY. “But I usually learn a whole lot more than I knew before,” she added smiling. Mrs. J.S. is a member of the 60 and over age group, 75 percent of who get their news from newspapers.
Surveys say that less than half of American adults age 18-29, however, get their news from the papers. Phones, tablets and computers top their list. The Jamestown Gazette is also on-line worldwide, bringing the hometown to college students wherever they are, to Western New York ex-patriots on the west coast and Snowbirds down south. They can simply check in at www.jamestowngazette. Facebook friends and Twitter followers who read the gazette and report in, also make up a large portion of the Gazette’s readership. The Gazette is more than a paper on the newsstand.
“I’m tired of TV news,” said Jamestown’s Mr. WDP. “They’re a clique of opinion makers and they don’t know anything about where I live.” WDP is a member of the age 40-59 adult American demographic which goes to their computers (desktop and laptop) to get 70 percent of their news. “I read the Gazette on-line when I travel,” he added. “And it’s just as free on-line as it is on the news stand. I like that!”
Across the nation, most community weeklies are personally or family owned by local community members, not national or regional mass media corporations. At the Jamestown Gazette, owner/publisher Stacey Hannon is a lifelong Jamestown resident, parent and business owner [Chautauqua Solutions] with a deep interest and concern for the town and the region.
In the traditional home of all-things-in-reading, the Prendergast Library in Jamestown and everyone else’s hometown library, the change in news sources is making its mark. “The media might be different – phones, computers, Facebook and others – but the message is still the same,” Prendergast Director Tina Scott told a recent visitor. “People still want the news.”
Today, however, readers can select from a world of special sources to best suit their needs. Weeklies papers like the Jamestown Gazette are ready made for the new media age.
News That Lasts
While media surveys say that the average reader spends about 40 minutes at a time with each edition of a weekly community newspaper, nearly 75 percent of readers say they read all or most of each paper.
“Coffee, a donut and the Gazette…that’s my breakfast,” said RK, a newcomer to Jamestown. “I should probably eat better, but at least I’m getting to know my way around and who’s who. But my wife just reads it for the ads. It’s hard to find good stuff in a new town, especially the bargains. I read it and leave it in the coffee shop, though, for the next guy.” RK is a ’20-something’ employee with a local manufacturer.
The average weekly newspaper is read by between two and three people. Local advertisers know the papers are around until the next one arrives; a single ad can sell for a whole week. By adding Internet exposure, it can be estimated that each 1,000 papers may reach 3 or 4,000 sets of eyes.
“If you’re not advertising your products and services in a free, weekly community paper,” Brian Sampson, on the Leadership Board of Unshackle Upstate recently told a meeting of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, “you’re missing an important opportunity.” Weeklies are a boon to local businesses and a valuable service to local consumers.
More than half of the typical readers of a weekly like the Jamestown Gazette are married and nearly 85 percent are homeowners.
“I picked up a copy of the very first Gazette at the mini-mart,” Ms. A. McC. recalled when asked while shopping on 3rd Street last week, spotted with a Jamestown Gazette under her arm. “I love to cook and Vicki McGraw [Join Me in the Kitchen] had a recipe in that first issue for salt water taffy. I haven’t missed a copy since, but if I’ve gained weight in the last four years, I’m blaming her.” Ms. McC. added that she gets most of her community news from the Jamestown Gazette. A recent media poll that found adults who rely on weekly community newspapers as their primary source for local news use it at a rate “…four times greater than the next nearest medium and ten times greater than the Internet.”
This week the Jamestown Gazette introduces a new feature which readers have repeatedly asked for: A Classified Ads section with free ad placement for short ads and a modest fee for longer ads. The Jamestown Gazette aims to become the marketplace of choice for readers, buyers and sellers throughout the community. See pages 12 and 13 to learn more.
This is in the tradition that the Gazette has followed throughout its first four years, that of adding new features, contributing writers and topics of concern, publishing public service announcements and paid advertisements, all in direct response to requests and needs expressed by our readers’ across the community.
On April 11, 2011 – issue No. 1 – the Jamestown Gazette quoted publisher and owner, Stacey Hannon:
“The best part of my career is the relationships I’ve made with so many owners of Jamestown’s unique and interesting businesses…I always look forward to visiting with them and hearing about their lives and their work.” Many of Jamestown’s business leaders, those friends, mentors and business partners who bring new growth, jobs and vitality to Jamestown every day, have enthusiastically encouraged her to launch The Jamestown Gazette.
As the Jamestown Gazette now launches into its fifth year, with services extended in to Cattaraugus County and Warren, PA, those relationships are even stronger and more important than ever. The Gazette’s family of advertisers continues to grow and profit by the services they provide to their communities. The Gazette is grateful for their partnership. By advertising their finest quality products, goods and services in the Gazette, they make it possible to continue providing the Jamestown Gazette free to thousands of readers every week.