Some Local Newspapers Thrive During Recession While the nation's newspaper industry is hurting, some smaller community papers are doing very well. Pelham, Alabama, is getting its first newspaper in more than a century.
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Some Local Newspapers Thrive During Recession

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Some Local Newspapers Thrive During Recession

Some Local Newspapers Thrive During Recession

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Now if you'd like an example of a newspaper that's fairing pretty well, get out of the cities, head to the countryside. While some big-city newspapers are hurting, many smaller community newspapers are surviving, even thriving. From member station WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama, Tanya Ott has the story of a town that is actually getting its first newspaper after more than a century without one.

TANYA OTT: Pelham, Alabama's 21,000 residents live in the shadow of nearby Birmingham, and Mayor Don Murphy says the big daily newspaper, The Birmingham News, doesn't pay them much mind.

(Soundbite of paper rustling)

OTT: He unfolds the front page across his conference table.

Mayor DON MURPHY (Pelham, Alabama): They had an article in here about Alabaster. At this point, I don't see anything about Pelham.

OTT: And that's why Murphy's excited about the Pelham Reporter, a new weekly newspaper published by the Shelby County Reporter. The paper's staff declined to comment about the new venture. Former publisher, Kim Price(ph), now runs three other small local papers.

Mr. KIM PRICE (Former Publisher): Well, let me just tell you that the rumors of our death are greatly exaggerated. Community newspapers across this country are doing well because they're doing what they're supposed to be doing.

OTT: And that's keeping it local. The new Pelham Reporter covers city hall, education, local business and high school sports. Chamber of Commerce president Jennifer Trammell says the Pelham Reporter will lean on local businesses for advertising revenue because the paper itself is free. Ad revenue at small town newspapers is holding up much better than in bigger cities.

Ms. JENNIFER TRAMMELL (Pelham Chamber of Commerce President): It's just human nature to shop kind of where you live, obviously, or work. And so they'll have an extra opportunity now to promote particular sales or particular events that are going on in their business to those local people.

OTT: Outside the Pelham Wal-Mart, most of the dozen or so shoppers we stopped hadn't heard about the new paper. Michelle Schneeder(ph) is doing a little back-to-school shopping with her toddler son. She says she doesn't regularly read any newspaper.

Ms. MICHELLE SCHNEEDER: I usually get most of my information, you know, online, so - but I, you know, I probably would pick it up and glance through it. If there was any coupons that interest me, I might clip those out, too.

OTT: Retiree Frank Laband(ph) says he'd like to know more about what's going on in local government, but…

Mr. FRANK LABAND: I would probably read it one time to see if it's any good.

OTT: But Pelham residents will have to make a trip to get their newspaper. To keep distribution costs down, the paper is only available in news racks scattered around town.

For NPR News, I'm Tanya Ott in Birmingham, Alabama.

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