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Study Shows Daily Newspapers Are Preferred Primary Advertising Source

ARLINGTON, Va. — Daily newspapers — read by at least 96 million American adults each weekday — are preferred over all other media as the primary source of advertising information, according to a new national readership study.

Calling the findings “heartening news” for daily newspapers, John J. Curley, chairman of the Newspaper Association of America, announced the highlights of the study today in an address to the NAA’s NEXPO’96 conference in Las Vegas.

Curley is chairman, president and CEO of Gannett Co., Inc., which
commissioned the national study of local and regional newspaper readership.

“The state of our industry is good and improving,” Curley said. “There are a lot of pluses in these numbers. They truly indicate we should be able to build on the advertising business we have.”

The national study, conducted in March and April of this year, included
telephone interviews with 2,645 adults ages 18 and older. The margin of error is +/- 2 percent. The key findings include:


* 71% of U.S. adults read at least one weekday edition of a local or
regional newspaper, while 57% read a daily newspaper on a typical weekday (Monday – Friday). Readers grow to 64% on a typical Sunday. More adults
read the daily newspaper on Friday than on any other weekday.

* Even as paid circulation declines — especially in larger cities —
readership is growing due, in part, to increasing numbers of passalong
readers, which now account for 14% of the total.

“It’s essential to recognize that paid circulation only tells part of the
story,” said Dr. David S. Neft, vice president/research in Gannett’s
Newspaper Division. “Now, one in seven readers of a daily newspaper didn’t
purchase his or her copy. And the demographics of these readers are just as

* Readership increases with affluence. In households with incomes of
$35,000-$75,000 annually, past week readership is 75%. This increases to 85%
in households with incomes of $100,000 or more.

* Home-delivery customers want their morning newspaper delivered earlier.
75% of the respondents said they would be satisfied with delivery by 5:30
a.m., while only 30% would be satisfied if the newspaper were delivered by 7


* Daily newspapers are the preferred medium in all 14 categories in which
respondents were asked to select their primary source for advertising
information. The percentages that selected daily newspapers are:

77% for entertainment and things to do locally
74% for homes and real estate
71% for used cars, trucks and vans
68% for groceries
64% for new cars, trucks and vans
62% for major appliances
61% for furniture and home furnishings
59% for clothing
58% for electronic equipment
57% for tires, batteries and auto accessories
56% for home improvements and hardware
54% for restaurants
46% for computers and related equipment
34% for medical and health-care services

* Younger adults are the most avid readers of Classified Advertising. Of
the respondents aged 18-24, 72% said they read the classified ads at least
once in the past week. This compares to 58% in the 35-49 age group and 31%
of those 65 and older.

* The believability of advertising differs greatly among the various media.
Daily newspapers, followed closely by weekly newspapers and shoppers, are
the most believable, according to the respondents. Direct-mail advertising
is the least believable by a wide margin.

* Most consumers make greater use of preprinted inserts or circulars in
their daily newspapers. By nearly a 3 to 1 margin, respondents said they
relied on the inserts in the newspaper, rather than on those delivered in the

* Fewer Americans are watching television commercials. 62% said they avoid
TV commercials by either leaving the room or changing the channel. This
includes 63% of all male respondents and 61% of all females.


News and information about the local community have the highest interest
levels among those interviewed. But readers are less satisfied with the
local and regional newspapers’ coverage in these categories.

The leading reader-interest topic areas, and the satisfaction rankings, are:

                                          Interest      Satisfaction
                                           Ranking         Ranking
Good Things Happening in the Area            1st             15th
Local News                                   2nd             13th
World/National News                          3rd              9th
Local Growth and Development                 4th             12th
The Environment                              5th             20th
Places To Go/Things To Do                    6th              8th
Education and Local Schools                  7th             10th

“Clearly, the franchise is local news and information,” Neft said. “But
readers also appear to be the most demanding in these categories. Newspapers
can and must do a better job of covering their communities.”

* Readers said they were most satisfied with the newspapers’ coverage of the
following topics, in order: Professional Sports; Local High School Sports;
Local Police and Crime News; College Sports, and City/County Government and

* Readers in the newspaper’s central city are more inclined to read the
newspaper — and are more satisfied with the news content — than are
residents of the suburbs and surrounding communities.

“Statistically, the drop-off in readership and satisfaction is enough to
raise a large red flag for editors and their staffs,” Neft said, “because the
suburbs is where the growing number of potential readers live.”

* The youngest (18-24) and oldest (65 or older) readers are the most
satisfied with the newspapers’ coverage, while those 35-49 are the least

* The larger the newspaper’s circulation, the higher the level of readers’

Gannett is a nationwide news and information company that publishes 92 daily newspapers, including USA TODAY, and USA WEEKEND, a newspaper magazine.
Gannett also has entertainment programming, operates 15 television stations, 11 radio stations, cable television systems in five states, alarm security services and the largest outdoor advertising company in North America.

For further information, contact:

Dr. David S. Neft
Vice President/Research
Newspaper Division
Gannett Co., Inc.
535 Madison Ave.
New York, N.Y. 10022
(212) 715-5525