You Read It Here First: Herald Is Strong And Getting Stronger

Published 2:23 pm Thursday, June 18, 2015

As I’m out and about town, the question I hear most often relates to the future of newspapers: bluntly stated, why invest in a dying business?

The question is understandable, given the doom and gloom you hear about the financial condition of metropolitan newspapers, whose business model is indeed unsustainable. Community newspapers like the Herald, which are unfairly lumped with our big-city brethren in the public perception, have a long and bright future if we work hard, and efficiently, at our core mission of providing local news, information and advertising in whatever format (print or digital) the consumer prefers.

Email newsletter signup

Our commitment is to produce the highest-quality product the economics of our community can support. Then, by ingenuity and imagination, we will strive for higher quality in an effort to serve and build our community.

In the case of Farmville and the Heart of Virginia, that ceiling is very high. Former Governor Gerald Baliles, elsewhere on this page, writes eloquently about the challenges facing rural Virginia – and offers a good prescription for addressing them. Farmville, Prince Edward, Buckingham and Cumberland are not immune from those challenges, but this region, thanks largely to the presence of two institutions of higher learning, is better positioned than others to overcome them.

Here at the Herald, thanks to the terrific community we serve, our core franchise is stronger than ever.  Fresh evidence came last week via Pulse Research, a reputable national polling firm that helps media companies like this one better understand our audience of readers.

Some highlights of the report:

• Seventy-three percent of adults in our three-county readership area regularly read the print edition of our newspaper – more than they read any other printed product, watch any single TV station or listen to any single radio station.

• Those readers are evenly distributed across age groups, combatting the popular notion that only seniors still read the newspaper. You might be surprised that 56 percent of our readers are younger than 50. Thirty-eight percent are younger than 40.

• We serve the entire economic spectrum. Twenty-three percent of our readers have an annual household income between $30,000 and $50,000. Twenty-nine percent earn more than $50,000. Twenty-four percent earn less than $30,000.

• Fifty-two percent of adults in the region have used our printed newspaper in the past 30 days to find information about where to buy a product or service locally — more than any other advertising medium, including online search engines and Facebook, to make a purchasing decision.

Numbers like those make community newspaper publishing a simple business model: provide good local content that people want to read, invest wisely in the journalists who produce that local content, eliminate spending on anything outside of that core mission and work tirelessly to put the marketing messages of local businesses in front of you, our wonderful family of readers and potential customers for our advertisers.

Steve Stewart is publisher of The Farmville Herald. His email address is