New GPA media kits use survey showing readership reach

A 2016 survey conducted for Georgia Press Association confirmed what most in our industry have long known: Newspapers have a wider reach with Georgia consumers than any other form of media.

That’s not all the readership study proved, of course. The data illustrated that newspapers reach the majority of adults in our state, that Georgians expect and want to read public notices in newspapers, and that consumers use newspapers more than any other source to help them find sales and make buying decisions.

While the conclusions were expected inside the industry, it’s time to make the information known outside it. GPA is taking that step with new media kits touting the readership study data that counter the false narrative about the decline of newspapers.

Scott Buffington, GPA President

“Over the last several months, the GPA staff and board have been developing a reworked, informative media kit for use by our Georgia Newspaper Service team to solicit new business for members,” said GPA President Scott Buffington, co-publisher with Mainstreet Newspapers in Jefferson.

“The results of this survey clearly show the perception that newspapers are a dying industry is dead wrong. It’s vital that both our GNS sales staff and our member newspapers make all our readers and advertisers aware of this information — our competitors certainly won’t use it.”

Request media kits by calling GNS Sales Director David Rigas at 770-454-6776 or emailing

Making use of this information is a critical step. For too long, newspapers have allowed other media to frame a perception that the industry is failing. There have been difficult times for newspapers, as there have been for all businesses in the last 10 years. As the survey proves however, newspapers remain the leading player when it comes to consumer reach and usage.

“Changing this erroneous thinking about us will be tough and will take time,” Buffington said. “It’s like turning a ship and will take repeated exposure and a variety of means to convince a sometimes skeptical public that newspapers are here to stay.”

The readership study was conducted by American Opinion Research. The survey confirmed that printed newspapers and their websites are the number-one source for local news in Georgia. Two-thirds of all Georgia adults read a printed newspaper or access a newspaper website during an average week — more than 4.7 million people across the state.

The findings are echoed by a survey conducted by National Newspaper Association earlier this year, which found that nationwide, more people prefer newspapers to any other media source for news about their community.


Will you attend GPA J-School?

Georgia newspaper journalists have a fantastic opportunity to go back to journalism school this fall with a quick two-day editorial workshop planned at the University of Georgia.

The event will start on a Thursday afternoon and wind up by lunchtime Friday with five total sessions and a reception. Topics Thursday will include Georgia’s open meetings law, the open records law and covering politics in a polarized community. Friday classes will be on writing and visuals.

“GPA J-School” will be Sept. 28-29 at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in Athens. The event is being held in partnership with Grady’s James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership and the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.

Keith Herndon, Cox Institute

Cox Institute Director Keith Herndon is organizing the workshop, which will also include a reception on Thursday afternoon. He said the workshop will be worthwhile for journalists of any experience level. “If you are involved in a newsroom, there’s something here for you,” he said.

Ken Foskett, senior editor for investigations at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Jim Zachary, regional editor for CNHI newspapers in Georgia and Florida, will lead the GFAF training on open government law and practices. The two have led seminars in other areas of the state on the topic. Lori Johnston, a freelance writer and instructor at Grady College, will lead the writing training, which will include techniques for writing across different media platforms. The visuals training will similarly include a look at photography and other forms of visual presentation.

Look for more about this unique educational and fun event in GPA communications coming soon!

Hans Appen, Appen Media Group, discusses the company’s Black Box editorial series at GPA’s convention in June.

AMG connects to readers through ‘Black Box’

At Georgia Press Association’s convention last month, representatives of more than three-dozen newspapers shared successful ideas they are using at their publications.

More than 20 ideas, mostly for new niche products or story ideas, were discussed at the meeting, and many publishers and editors brought examples to share. Since then, GPA has compiled the ideas into one document and shared it and some of those examples with those who attended the “Hot Ideas on Tap” session.

In the coming months, look to Georgia Press Bulletin for more information on these ideas and consider how you can incorporate them at your newspaper.

A panel of judges awarded the top ideas with prizes, and the top prize went to Appen Media Group of Alpharetta, a media associate member of GPA that publishes weekly newspapers such as the Forsyth Herald, the Johns Creek Herald and others in north Fulton County. AMG’s Hans Appen presented the company’s “Black Box”  editorial series.

Black Box is the investigative journalism initiative that readers told Appen Media Group they want from the community newspapers, which have a combined circulation of about 75,000.

“We primarily focus on writing about hyper-local, niche topics for our news like city council, school board, high school sports. This has been our model since 1983, and it has served us well. However, at the end of last year, our company did a 360 review of our practices,” said Appen, general manager of Appen Media Group.

“One piece of feedback we receive often is that our readers are extremely loyal and attentive, but that they wish that we would ‘do more’ or ‘dive deeper.’ In a sense, what they are wishing for is more investigative journalism. While this is not what we traditionally do, we decided that we would do our best to accommodate our readers. After all, we have the resources to make it happen. So, we launched Black Box.”

There have been five Black Box projects covering wage discrimination, rising costs for glass recycling and local government’s response, homelessness in affluent suburbs, and a local school board forfeiting more than $1 million in tax revenue. The largest — and still ongoing — project has been to detail cases where government impedes journalists’ access to public information. At the convention, Appen invited newspapers to share their examples of governments failing to live up their sunshine obligations with the Black Box project.

Appen said Black Box is modeled on groups like The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for its expose on sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.

“A key difference with our Black Box team is that our reporters work both their assigned beats and on Black Box projects,” Appen said. “This difference works well for us as we are a small company and the flow of work is not impeded by incorporating project updates into our regular news meetings.”

Appen also noted that AMG’s newspapers are using Black Box projects to diversify their products. Work is presented across platforms such as social media, podcasts, newsletters and more, and the company designed a special website for the project:, where it seeks tips and story suggestions from readers.