There are a lot of gloom and doom headlines related to newspapers these days. There’s plenty of good news, too, but you’re not likely to hear about it on the evening news.
One example: This year the Florida Press Association commissioned an independent research firm, CODA Ventures, to conduct a survey about news consumption in the state. They found that some 15.1 million Floridians—86% of all adults—read local print or digital newspapers.
You might think that finding is the result of a state with a lot of retirees, but they did not comprise anywhere close to a majority of those readers: 74% of Floridians who regularly read local news are under the age of 65.
Those statewide numbers reflect what we saw here in Alachua County this year. In the fall, our first-ever reader survey—conducted by the Circulation Verification Council (CVC)—found 43% of our readers are ages 18 to 44. Another 25% of you are ages 45 to 65, while 32% are 65 and older. That’s a healthy split that bodes well for our future, the CVC told us.
We sought to grow all segments of our audience through a variety of new projects in 2022. The year included new series such as Faith Spotlight and Aging Matters, plus the launch of a live interview series at Santa Fe College. We also began publishing obituaries, introduced a new online tool for tracking and publicizing local events, and debuted a self-service portal for publishing legal notices.
Overhauling our website represented one of the larger projects of the year. Our primary goal was to deliver faster page downloads, but it also brought new flexibility and features such as improved searchability.
Without a doubt, the biggest project of the year was our launch into print. While we remain a digital-first operation, we firmly believe there is still a role for print. The community has confirmed this belief with the reception of the print edition, which includes 10,000 copies distributed to homes and businesses around Alachua County. In short, it has supercharged our growth.
Here is how that played out online:
- Page views and sessions at mainstreetdailynews.com more than doubled from 2021 to 2022.
- Organic search traffic to the site surged 82%.
- Unique users rose by more than 76%.
- Newsletter traffic to the site increased 134%.
- Newsletter subscribers spiked more than 350%.
If those numbers were not enough, our reader survey found that more than 62% of you stay on the site for more than 15 minutes each day. That’s a lot of engaged readers spending time with our content.
These trends all encourage us to keep going—and many local leaders have said the same.
“Mainstreet is a new voice of inclusion in the community, always on the scene to tell the story for all,” said Gainesville Commissioner Cynthia Moore Chestnut.
Our team may be small, but we managed to produce more than 1,200 original, bylined stories this year. And we sought to provide our fair, professional reporting to the entire area, not only Gainesville.
“Newberry is so grateful to have a new, fresh and unbiased paper in our community,” Mayor Jordan Marlowe said. “Mainstreet Daily News’ commitment to covering all of Alachua County is amazing, and Newberry is excited to welcome them to our area!”
To top it all off, 2022 brought us an influx of new individual supporters and many new advertisers. These people and businesses have our deepest gratitude for their support. Local journalism is a community project, so it’s vital that we have not only clicks, kind words and newsletter subscribers, but also financial partners.
Thankfully, that proposition is a win-win. The CVC found that 44% of our readers regularly buy from Mainstreet advertisers, so it’s not hard to convince businesses that we have an attractive audience.
Needless to say, we are excited about 2023 and beyond. We thank you for being a part of the Mainstreet Daily News family.
Editor’s note: To see Mainstreet’s 2022 Community Impact Report, click here.