What is a community newspaper?

Not all community newspapers are created equal. The term community newspaper refers to weekly newspapers that meet the general membership criteria set by the Canadian Community Newspapers Association (CCNA) and its seven regional associations. An included newspaper must contain editorial content, and not publish as a shopper, farm publication or other advertising media. These set standards relate to ad-to-editorial ratios, locally produced editorial content, a consistent publishing schedule, and verified audited circulation data.

The Manitoba Community Newspapers Association (MCNA) logo currently appears on the masthead of 48 member newspapers with a combined audited weekly circulation of over 400,000. Across Canada, 677 members currently qualify for CCNA or provincial association membership and adhere to the highest levels of publishing standards and journalistic integrity. With more than 60% of these having circulations of under 5,000, this effective dynamic force plays an important role in building strong vibrant communities throughout Canada.

How are community newspapers unique from other mediums?

Advertisers face the challenge of reaching target groups exposed to a multitude of advertising messages in more ways than ever before. Therefore, advertising campaigns must relay these messages in a clear manner using the most effective media mix to connect the customer within a specified geographic region with the brand. Community newspapers are the one medium that plays a significant role in becoming a regular part of what matters to its readers bringing community, home, and family together. While not appearing as mainstream as other mediums, community newspapers are both top-of-mind and essential to the people they serve. Did you realize that of the total ad dollars spent in 2000, community newspapers represented one of the four top mediums in Canada following just television, daily newspapers, and radio?

Community newspapers are the talk of the town! Community newspaper readers take the time each week to read the stories about the people, events and businesses that impact the lives of their neighbours, family, friends as well as the community on whole. For you the advertiser, this translates into a consistent loyal readership within a newspaper's distribution area and the guarantee that a quality weekly product is published with relevance to its readers. Over the years, this relationship established between community and newspaper has nurtured a high level of affinity and offers the best environment to deliver your advertising message each week. Combining its relevant editorial content with the reader's receptive state-of-mind, community newspapers deliver a pre-conditioned customer ready to receive your advertising message each week.

Should I be concerned about free (or controlled) newspaper circulation?

The question of free (or controlled) circulation versus paid circulation is often raised when talking about community newspapers. Daily newspapers may knock a free distribution newspaper by stating you get what you pay for while others appreciate getting something for free nowadays. While many newspaper readers in larger urban centers accept that they generally pay to obtain printed news on a daily basis, 89% of present community newspapers are available free each week and have so for a number of years! Of the current 677 community newspaper members, a total of 549 are audited from the Verified Circulation Service. This data is reported every six months and verified annually by a circulation auditor or chartered accountant. Other publications provide audits from recognized audit sources such as the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), or the Canadian Circulation Audit Board (CCAB).

A newspaper's readership is not only measured by its status as paid or subscribed to but more so by the quality/relevance of its content, the frequency/reliability of its publishing schedule, and the total broad reach provided by its circulation. If a paper informs, entertains and delivers advertising, consumers will use it whether they pay for it or not. Whether paid or controlled, the backbone of a weekly community newspaper remains its readership niche. A community newspaper gears itself to do the things larger city dailies cannot do to serve their local neighborhood(s) and to be the number one source of news and local advertising for a specific geographic area in their community.