Print isn’t dead: major survey reveals local newspapers vastly preferred over Google among country news consumers


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Kristy Hess, Deakin University and Lisa Waller, RMIT University

Newspaper readers in rural and regional Australia are five times more likely to go directly to their local newspaper website than Google or Facebook for local information, and almost 10 times as likely to go to their local news website over a council website for news and information.

Nearly two-thirds of local newspaper readers also indicate policies affecting the future of rural and regional media would influence the way they vote at the next federal election.

These are some of the key findings of a national survey of almost 4,200 Australian country newspaper readers we recently conducted as part of a project to drive greater innovation in the rural and regional media landscape.

Many small newspapers in Australia faced closure after their advertising budgets shrunk during the global pandemic, while others moved to digital-only editions to cut costs.

In our survey — the largest conducted of country press audiences in Australia — we found local newspapers still play a vital role in providing information to residents in these communities, even with the proliferation of news available on Facebook and Google.

This is a significant finding, given how much focus has been placed on the role of the tech giants as a central point for digital news and information.

Australia is targeting Google and Facebook with new law.
Australia’s new law aimed at forcing Google and Facebook to pay for news content has been fiercely opposed by the tech companies.
Mark Lennihan/AP

The federal government recently implemented a mandatory news media bargaining code that forces tech companies like Facebook and Google to pay news producers for content that appears on their platforms.

Last week, the ACCC granted interim approval for Country Press Australia to negotiate with the tech giants on behalf of its 160 newspapers.

This funding is desperately needed to help support publishers of credible, reliable local news who are losing the advertising dollar to social media platforms — but for some, it still may not be enough.




Read more:
As Facebook ups the ante on news, regional and elderly Australians will be hardest hit


Resistance to local papers going online only

Our survey also reveals just how passionate people are about local newspapers in rural and regional Australia — that is, the print version. In fact, the majority of country press audiences (71%) prefer to read their local paper in print than online.



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Many respondents expressed resistance to their newspaper being made available in digital format only. They offered comments such as:

There is always room for improvement, but if this newspaper went digital, I would not be interested.

And this from another:

The day it goes digital only will be the day I stop reading it.

Our survey also found that respondents overwhelmingly (86%) view a printed copy of their newspaper as an essential service for their community.



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This accords with our previous research that has advocated for the federal government to recognise the vital importance of the printed paper to regional communities.

While the average age of our survey respondents was 60-61, this demographic will continue to represent a large portion of local news readership for many years.

This means local news organisations need strategies to aid the transition for all audiences into digital formats and/or advocate for the survival of the printed product in the interests of social connection and democracy.


Age NewsSource graph.
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Locals want a say in the future of their papers

Our survey also found 94% of respondents want a much bigger say about government policies and decisions affecting the future of local newspapers. This finding sends a message to policymakers to rethink their strategies for engaging the public in ideas to support the future of local media.

When it comes to solutions for struggling rural and regional media outlets, our survey found:

  • audiences believe local newspapers should be collaboratively funded by a range of relevant stakeholders (media companies, advertisers, subscribers, social media, government and philanthropic organisations) to ensure their future
  • while some media lobbyists and academics — both in Australia and overseas — have called for newspaper subscriptions to be made tax deductible, 71% of respondents are not in favour of such initiatives
  • respondents also overwhelmingly said any additional government funding for local news should be used to employ more local journalists (71%) over increasing digital connectivity (13%) and digital innovation products (17%).



Read more:
Local news sources are closing across Australia. We are tracking the devastation (and some reasons for hope)


The voices of loyal readers must be heard

Our findings also reaffirm that local newspaper audiences are loyal and develop life-long connections with newspapers wherever they live and work. As an 88-year-old man from Victoria said,

I have always looked forward to the local paper, and whilst the format is now different, it is still a ‘must’ to catch up on whatever is happening in my town.

While there have been Senate inquiries into the future of public interest journalism, media diversity and the role of the ABC in regional and rural areas, the public submissions to these important policy discussions are lacking the voices of local newspaper readers like our respondents.




Read more:
Local newspapers are an ‘essential service’. They deserve a government rescue package, too


This is not because people in the bush don’t care, but because such formal mechanisms are arguably not the best way to engage with and listen to media audiences beyond the major cities.

What is clear from our research is local independent newspapers really matter to their audiences, and many loyal readers are ready to defend them at the ballot box.The Conversation

Kristy Hess, Associate Professor (Communication), Deakin University and Lisa Waller, Professor of Digital Communication, RMIT University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

What black writers think about the UK’s publishing industry – a survey



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Catherine Harris, Sheffield Hallam University and Bernadette Stiell, Sheffield Hallam University

As people seek to educate themselves in response to Black Lives Matter protests, sales of books by black British authors, such as Reni Eddo-Lodge and Bernadine Evaristo, have topped the UK bestseller lists. Several recent prestigious awards have also been won by black writers, including Candice Carty-Williams who won book of the year for Queenie at the British Book Awards. Although proud of her achievement, she was also “sad and confused” on discovering she was the first black author to win this award in its 25-year history.

While these firsts must be celebrated, they also shine a light on publishing’s systemic practices, which have maintained inequalities and under-representation for black, Asian and minority ethnic writers and diverse books. Despite awareness of its shortcomings and years of debates and initiatives (diversity schemes, blind recruiting practices and manuscript submission processes) the industry has generally failed to achieve lasting change. This is because they fail to address the broader systemic inequalities faced by people of colour, which contribute to ongoing under-representation in the industry.

A substantial market

Our research on diversity in children’s publishing included an online survey of 330 responses and 28 in-depth follow-up interviews with people working across the sector. We found that a key barrier has been the engrained perception among industry decision-makers that there is a limited market for diverse books. This is a belief that books written by black and diverse authors or featuring non-white characters just don’t sell.

This perception is seen across the industry, including in children’s literature. This is despite evidence of substantial markets. For instance, a third of English primary pupils are from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background. However, a report by the Centre For Literacy in Primary Education revealed that although the number of black, Asian and minority ethnic protagonists in children’s books had increased from 1% in 2017 to 4% in 2018, there is still a long way to go to achieve representation that reflects the UK population.

A third of English primary pupils come from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds, which represents a substantial market for diverse books.
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Similarly, BookTrust reported that only 6% of children’s authors published in the UK in 2017 were from ethnic minority backgrounds, only a minor improvement from 4% in 2007.

What we found was that the lack of role models in the books read by children and young people of colour meant that they were less likely to aspire to careers in the sector. From those we spoke to, this was compounded by the lack of diversity, particularly in senior roles, in publishing. For those who had pursued a publishing career, experiences of everyday racism and microaggressions were widespread. This added to feelings of frustration and a sense that they were not welcome or did not belong in the industry.

Commissioning problems

This all has a knock-on effect on what gets published. Authors of colour that we spoke to expressed frustration about the commissioning process. This included quotas for books by or featuring people of colour, a perceived limited appeal for these books and a feeling that authors of colour could only write about race issues.

Reliance on “traditional routes” to publishing also disadvantages black and working-class authors. Publishers reported receiving high volumes of submissions and heavy workloads led to them relying on established writers rather than seeking out new, diverse talent. This has the impact of narrowing the pool of authors from which books are published.

Our participants – including authors, illustrators, editorial assistants and agents – widely reported that a lack of cultural understanding can also lead to the view that diverse books are a riskier investment. They explained how limited promotion and marketing budgets often resulted in lower sales, reinforcing perceptions of limited demand. From their experience, miscommunication at subsequent points along the supply chain about the demand for and availability of diverse books means that those that are published may not even reach bookshop shelves.

Those interviewed expressed frustration about miscommunication about demands for diverse books leading to many not ending bookshops.
Gary L Hider/Shutterstock

These interconnected factors (among others) create a negative cycle which perpetuates the lack of representation of minorities across all parts of the sector, including the lack of authors of colour being nominated for prizes and awards. Recommendations from our research include ensuring diversity on selection panels for events and awards and some good work is already taking place. However, more systematic collaboration and commitment from the sector will be required to produce lasting and meaningful changes and achieve equality and representation.

Our research participants pointed out that social media was allowing individuals to more effectively come together and raise their voices in support of diversity and representation. They expressed hope that this may help to drive forward meaningful and lasting change in the sector. There are signs that this may be the case with recent campaigns emerging in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The #publishingpaidme campaign highlighted racial disparities in publishing advances. The publisher Amistad, an imprint of Harper Collins dedicated to multicultural voices, ran the campaign #BlackoutBestsellerList and #BlackPublishingPower to draw attention to black authors and book professionals and demonstrate the market for these books. The newly formed Black Writers’ Guild, including many of Britain’s best-known authors and poets, wrote an open letter airing concerns and demanding immediate action from publishers. The hope is that these campaigns can focus the industry on bringing about meaningful change.The Conversation

Catherine Harris, Research Associate, Sheffield Hallam University and Bernadette Stiell, Senior research fellow in the Sheffield Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

An idiosyncratic survey of great Canadian reads



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What better season than winter to curl up with some interesting books? University of Toronto English professor Randy Boyagoda recommends five from his personal Canadian literature library.
(João Silas/Unsplash)

Randy Boyagoda, University of Toronto

Editor’s note: What better season than winter to curl up with some interesting books? We went to ScotiaBank Giller Prize nominated novelist and University of Toronto English professor Randy Boyagoda and asked him to recommend to us five of his personal book choices from the shelves of Canadian literature.

Randy Boyagoda published his first novel, Governor of the Northern Province, in 2006, followed by Beggar’s Feast in 2011. His new novel, Original Prin, is forthcoming in 2018.

Randy surveyed his shelves and here are his five idiosyncratic choices:

Black Robe

Written by Brian Moore (1985)

Black Robe is historical fiction set in the 17th century Canada — meaning New France. It’s a novel involving an encounter that French Jesuit missionaries have with members of the Algonquin, Huron and Iroquois.

What I found so remarkable about the book is its potential contribution to our contemporary conversation about truth and reconciliation especially given that it was written in a very different cultural moment. I think the book is honest and bracing and has a certain spaciousness of vision that attempts to provide full and meaningful lives for every character.

Arrival: The Story of CanLit

Written by Nick Mount (2017)

Arrival (Anansi) by Nick Mount, has rightly been generating a great deal of both public and critical attention this fall.

Nick’s book is an ambitious and readable effort to tell the story of how we went from being a nation without a literature to a literature without a nation. The book explores a specific interest in what we might think of as the “boom time” of Canadian literature, from the late ‘60s through the early ‘70s.

What I found especially interesting about Nick’s book is his willingness to offer a series of evaluations, ratings even, of various Canadian novels. We live in a culture that sometimes shies away from making aesthetic and critical judgements. I think what’s great in Arrival is that Nick invites us to read these books and disagree with him.

The Great Canadian Novel

I’m trying to decide whether I disagree with Nick when he says in his book, Arrival, that The Double Hook by Sheila Watson (1959), which is a slim and complex mid-century Canadian novel, is the Great Canadian Novel.

That’s a big claim. If I were going to make the same claim, I’d assign that honour to Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler (1989).

I’ve decided to read Double Hook in the coming weeks and decide if I agree with Nick or not.

The Way of the Strangers

Written by Graeme Wood (2017)

The Way of the Strangers is a work of striking literary journalism. It recently won the Governor General’s Award for non-fiction. Wood is best known for his cover story in The Atlantic two years ago, on ISIS. His book is a series of first-person essays, travelogues and analyses of radical Islam.

Wood goes to various Middle Eastern states, places in the U.S., and elsewhere. There’s wide, personal contact with people in various forms of radicalization and he’s also subjected to various attempts at conversion—reading about that is also fascinating.

Wood’s care, seriousness and persuasive criticisms of radical Islam shows that understanding his subject only in political terms or as a misrepresentation of Islam does not do justice to the complex and riven reality of contemporary Islam. As an outsider who’s interested in these matters, I found the book really engaging.

A news-minded audience would find a book like this of real interest. It really does give you a sense of the inner lives of people who have committed to a radical interpretation of Islam and are trying to live that out in the world around them.

The quality of writing and reporting is excellent and the book is especially timely now for obvious reasons. I think that it will be an important historical document in global affairs thirty years from now.

Fifteen Canadian Poets x 2

Edited by Gary Geddes (1978)

My last pick involves a family tradition.

Most Sunday nights, the Boyagoda family gathers in our own library and we each read a poem. I choose my Sunday poem out of Fifteen Canadian Poets x 2 edited by Gary Geddes. It came out in 1978. The book was a very important and timely anthologizing of new Canadian poetry and also at that point, established poets. There are people in there ranging from E.J. Pratt to then emerging voices, such as Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood.

The ConversationWhen I pick a writer out of that anthology, the writers I go for most often are poets like P.K. Page, Raymond Souster and Alden Nowlan. Here are people who write beautiful, arresting, strange and funny poetry. Reading from it is a double break: it’s a nice break, frankly, from the usual suspects, and it also introduces my American-born wife, who has a PhD in twentieth century American and Caribbean poetry, I add, and our American children, to all the wonders of Canadian literature, poetically.

Randy Boyagoda, Professor of English, University of Toronto

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Australian Reading Survey


The link below is to an article that takes a look at a survey conducted by the Australia Council and Macquarie University on Australian reading habits.

For more visit:
http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/research/reading-the-reader/

More gadgets, more reading: Survey suggests e-reader and tablet owners read more books


Gigaom

A new survey from USA Today and book discovery website Bookish finds that U.S. adults who own a tablet or e-reader read more books than the device-less. The survey also found differences in reading habits between adults under 40 and adults over 40.

USA Today Bookish survey

The survey polled 1,000 adults nationwide and an additional 819 adults who own an e-reader or tablet. Overall, it found that 40 percent of adults — and 46 percent of those between 18 and 39 — owned a tablet or e-reader, “doubling the numbers from less than two years ago.”

Thirty-five percent of those who owned a device said they read more since getting it. Of the device owners, those ages 18-39 had read an average of 21 books in the past year, while respondents ages 40 and over had read an average of 16 books in the past year.

Those who didn’t own a device read…

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Article: Snacks for Reading


I’m not sure just how great these snacks are, but according to a study or survey (or something), these are the perfect snacks for reading. The link below is to an article that highlights what are the perfect snacks for reading – certainly they don’t appear all that healthy.

For more visit:
http://www.epicreads.com/blog/the-perfect-snacks-for-reading/