FEATURED: South Texas attorneys, and husband and wife Omar Ochoa and Leah Wise, flash the Hook ‘Em Horns hand signal of their alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, during a reception held on April 15, 2023 honoring the most recent group of Rio Grande Valley students to be admitted to the school. Both are graduates of UT-Austin; Ochoa is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin Law School, and Wise is a graduate of St. Mary’s University School of Law.
Photograph Courtesy OMAR OCHOA FACEBOOK
2023 Local Newspaper Study looks at changing ways that different generations of Americans get their information, reports attorney Omar Ochoa
Will newspapers survive the Digital Age, which is the current period of time when massive amounts of information, video and print images, and audio are available to people with home computers or other devices that use the Internet?
Of will the printed version of the majority of newspapers continue to become a thing of the past, as they too become online-only publications, which will require an individual to afford the cost of equipment and Internet service to know what is going on, especially in their hometown?
“There are many predictions on what the near future will bring to the print versions of local daily newspapers, but big changes are already happening,” said attorney Omar Ochoa. “It wasn’t but a few month ago that the Monitor newspaper in McAllen stopped publishing on Monday and Tuesday, but it is still providing a digital version – with much more content – every day on its website.”
However, effective Saturday, September 9, 2023, print editions for The Monitor, Valley Morning Star and The Brownsville Herald will gofrom five days a week to a semi-weekly format publishing only Wednesdays and Saturdays, which would serve as a weekend edition, according to a news release by AIM Media Texas, LLC.
About a year earlier, the Odessa-American changed from a seven days a week print publication to a seven days per week digital-only edition with only two days per week of printed versions.
Ochoa provides regular reports to the public on federal, state, and local laws that impact journalism, communications, freedom of speech issues, and transparency in government.
A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin as well as the UT School of Law, Ochoa is an advocate for transparency in government, provides regular reports to the public on federal, state, and local laws that impact journalism, communications, freedom of speech issues, and transparency in government.
Ochoa was the first Latino/Mexican American to serve as student body president, and the first Hispanic to serve as Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Law Review at the law school.
Recently, an advocacy group known as “America’s Newspapers”, which was incorporated in Washington, D.C., released its 2023 Local Newspaper Study, the first national research project dedicated to how reader consume local news and advertising in nearly a decade, according to Greg Watson, Chief Marketing Officer.
“America’s Newspapers is committed to meeting the needs of our members and of the industry,” said Dean Ridings, CEO of America’s Newspapers. “We are proud to present the 2023 Local Newspaper Study, a project dedicated specifically to measuring the difference local newspapers make.”
The national study of 5,000 respondents was conducted by the independent research firm Coda Ventures, and provides compelling evidence of the importance, relevance and vitality of today’s newspapers in the American media landscape.
“According to the 2023 Local Newspaper Study, 281 million Americans get their news and information from the local newspapers every month,” Ochoa said. “What was also very revealing is how the different generations of American adults – Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, and Silent G – get their news.”
Among some of the highlights of the 2023 Local Newspaper Study are:
• Eight out of 10 Americans read print or digitally accessed newspaper content every month;
• Sixty-six (66) percent of Americans access newspaper content from a smart phone;
A smartphone is a cellphone that lets a person do more than make phone calls and send text messages. Smartphones can browse the Internet and run software programs like a computer. Smart phones use a touch screen to allow users to interact with them. There are thousands of smartphone apps, including games, personal-use, and business-us programs that all run on the phone.
• Forty-three percent of Americans get their newspaper content from a Desktop/laptop; 25 percent from an iPad/tablet; and 10 percent from other Internet devices.
• 78 percent are under the age of 65;
• 71 percent have lived in the community five or more years;
• 67 percent of households earn $50,000+ annually;
• 61 percent are homeowners;
• 57 percent are employed;
• 51 percent are female, 49 percent are male;
• 38 percent are college grads or higher; and
• 35 percent have children in the home.
Platforms that Americans use to get newspaper content fall into the following categories:
Website: 67 percent
A website is a collection of publicly accessible, interlinked Web pages that share a single domain name, such as the name of a digital newspaper, which is an electronic version of a printed newspaper.
Social media: 59 percent
Social media is a collective term for websites and applications that focus on communication, community-based input, interaction, content sharing and collaboration.
Daily/Sunday newspaper: 51 percent
A daily newspaper is a type of publication that is printed and distributed to the public on a daily basis. It contains news and information about current events that are of interest to the general public. It is usually printed on large sheets of paper and is available for purchase at newsstands or through home delivery.
App: 51 percent
Application software (App) is a kind of software which is a significant part of the technology-driven world we live in and can increase a person’s life, enjoyment and productivity. Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Word and Excel are examples of application software that is used on a personal computer or laptop.
Weekly newspaper: 51 percent
A weekly newspaper is a general-news or current affairs publication that is issued once or twice a week in a wide variety broadsheet, magazine, and digital formats. Weekly newspapers tend to have smaller circulations than daily newspapers, and often cover smaller territories, such as one or more smaller towns, a rural county, or a few neighborhoods in a large city.
Email newsletter: 50 percent
An email newsletter is a type of email that has both text and media and sent sent subscribers to keep them up-to-date on news, tips, and developments of interest to those subscribers. Despite the fact that email marketing is one of the oldest marketing methods on the internet, more than 70 percent of firms still utilize it. That is because Email marketing has shown to be far more effective than social media marketing over the last decades.
The ways different generation groups want to have newspaper content follows:
Gen Z (18-24)
Social media: 54 percent;
Daily news website: 45 percent; and
Breaking news emails: 33 percent.
Generation Z comprises people born between 1996 and 2010. This generation’s identity has been shaped by the digital age, climate anxiety, a shifting financial landscape, and COVID-19. Generation Z is, in general, the most diverse generation of Americans to date in a variety of demographics. Nearly 50 percent of Gen Zers are racial and ethnic minorities, and 1 in 4 identifies as Hispanic.
Social media: 48 percent;
Daily news website: 45 percent; and
Breaking news emails: 37 percent.
Millennials are the generation born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s. The millennial generation is large – there are now more millennials in the adult population worldwide than any other age group. They also make up more of the workforce that any other generation. Millennials have grown up during a time of political and economic upheaval, huge advances in technology, and great change in the world.
Gen X (40-59)
Daily news website: 47 percent;
Breaking news emails: 41 percent; and
Home delivered daily paper: 37 percent.
Generation X, also called Gen X, baby bust generation, or MTV Generation, are Americans born between 1965 and 1980. Gen Xers experienced shaky economic times as children and young adults, enduring the recessions of the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, and would continue to be impacted by economic tumult throughout their adult lives. In midlife during the early 21st century, research describes them as active, happy, and achieving a work–life balance. Gen-X has also been credited as entrepreneurial and productive in the workplace more broadly.
Daily news website: 43 percent;
Breaking new emails; and
Home delivered daily paper.
Baby boomers of people born during the surge in births in the U.S. immediately follows World War II. The size of this generation in the U.S. combined with technological changes and geopolitical factors to dramatically reshape the country politically, culturally, and economically.
Silent gen (75+)
Home delivered daily paper: 40 percent;
Daily news website: 38 percent; and
Breaking news email: 36 percent.
The Silent Generation, also known as “Radio Babies” or “Traditionalists,” includes people who were born between 1928 and 1945 and lived through World War II and the Great Depression. The Silent Generation lived much of their lives before technology, such as before the advent of computers and the internet. As a result, many prefer to communicate face-to-face and may enjoy working in a physical location rather than remotely.
The 2023 Local Newspaper Study was made possible by America’s Newspapers and the continued support of the Inland Press Foundation and the SNPA Foundation. Additional support was provided by Adams Publishing Group, Clarity Media Group, EO Media Group, Gannett Company, Inc., Press Publications, Ogden Newspapers, Paxton Media Group, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Shaw Media, Southern Newspapers, Inc., The Seattle Times, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, WEHCO Media, Inc., Wick Communications, Coda Ventures and Editor & Publisher.
An overview of the study is available HERE.
Rio Grande Valley’s three major newspapers to drop print editions to only two days a week on September 9, 2023
New audience demands in an ever-evolving media landscape has prompted AIM Media Texas to reduce its print editions for The Monitor, Valley Morning Star and The Brownsville Herald from five days a week to a semi-weekly format publishing only Wednesdays and Saturdays, which would serve as a weekend edition.
In line with a multi-phase process that has aimed to meet readers where they are, beginning first with regionalizing coverage in 2020 then with launching MyRGV.com in 2021, this change is part of ongoing efforts to diversify all platforms that provide services to the Rio Grande Valley community.
This is also part of AIM Media Texas’ efforts to fulfill its mission of creating a well-informed public by following its audience where they prefer to get their news. It’s a longstanding model that began with yesteryear when strategizing newspaper rack locations where people gathered more abundantly was the most sophisticated means of attracting readers, to today when mobile devices are now the largest source of readership.
Daily e-editions available via the newspapers’ apps and website, MyRGV.com, will continue to be published Monday through Saturday. These changes will take effect Saturday, September 9.
Evolving delivery channels
Today’s market realities have made it difficult to keep and recruit independent contractors who deliver print editions. As a result, AIM Media Texas has begun transitioning into a new delivery model that will incorporate mail to ensure same-day delivery.
“We have already begun delivering some of our papers through the U.S. Postal Service. Same-day delivery by mail is now more reliable than trying to service routes which have no carrier, a trend we expect to continue,” said Stephan Wingert, Publisher and AIM Media Texas Regional Vice President.
He added that the ability to meet the mission of a 100-year-old business is directly related to focusing limited resources on digital products for the next 100 years.
“As someone who grew up in the industry, I understand how important it is for our days to begin with the paper and a morning cup of coffee. I believe in the power of the written word and understand what print means to this community, so this wasn’t an easy decision but it was the right one. We maintain these values by embracing our future, because there’s no century-old company that lasts that long without evolving.”
This also follows AIM Media Texas’ announcement earlier this year that the daily print editions would reduce to five days a week, not printing Mondays and Tuesdays.
Digital readership growth
Readership for the Monday and Tuesday e-editions, however, increased by about 50 percent on average since those changes took effect. This coupled with MyRGV.com and related digital publications scoring around a million monthly users indicate that interest in digital products is increasing beyond what print publishing can achieve.
To benefit advertisers and help grow their business, AIM Media Texas has also been growing its marketing arm by providing a robust array of digital advertising methods, and is now among the more sophisticated media outlets for these services.
Commitment to local news coverage
The newsrooms, meanwhile, will continue to strive for public accountability as reporters, photographers and editors work to build regional coverage of South Texas.
Wingert said it’s imperative to strengthen the support for local journalism and highlighted the years of service each newspaper has dedicated to covering the Valley, with the Herald printing since 1892 and the Star and Monitor since 1909.
“We delivered the news to you when the Titanic sank, when Pearl Harbor was attacked, when Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated, when we landed on the moon, when 9/11 happened, when the world stopped because of a global pandemic, and we’re going to continue delivering the news to you,” Wingert said. “The news will never cease. We’re just building a new future.”
Read the daily e-editions for The Monitor, Star and Herald at MyRGV.com or via their respective mobile apps. MyRGV.com subscribers get instant access to the e-editions as well as to all web features. Readers can subscribe by visiting the website.
For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).