Alabama town gets its newspaper, but is anyone reading?

Last week, the Shelby County Reporter in Alabama announced they planned to launch a paper in Pelham — population 21,000 — providing local news to a town that hasn’t had its own paper in 166 years. But NPR ran a segment today that suggests Pelham residents may not actually read the weekly newspaper. That is, if they had even heard of it in the first place.

Across the country, community newspapers seem to be the only papers that could be escaping the downward spiral facing the rest of the industry. But on the radio segment, Tanya Ott, a reporter for NPR’s Birmingham affiliate, found that most of the dozen residents she approached outside the Pelham Wal-Mart hadn’t heard about the new Pelham Reporter.

What would they do if they did see it on a news rack?

One person said he “would probably read it one time to see if it’s any good.”

“I probably would pick it up and glance through it,” another resident said while shopping with her toddler. And after a beat: “If there was any coupons that interest me, I might clip those out, too.”

At least Pelham residents will be well-versed in buy-one-get-one-free discounts, even if they’re still in the dark about their local news.


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