The 10,000-circulation weekly Jackson County (Mo.) Advocate focuses on serving its own neighborhood and it’s doing just fine, thank you. Sure, its four-person staff works long hours to produce the weekly, but employees will also stop to talk with residents who stop by the office because that’s where the best stories come from. Like the local man who found an image of the Virgin Mary on a rock in his back yard. “You never know who’s going to come through the front door,” says Editor Andrea Wood, who’s interviewed in this five-minute report by local radio station KCUR. “We’ve done stories about people who had grown freakishly large pears. It’s about the community.”
Wood says the turmoil that’s killing large metro newspapers isn’t hitting hyper-local titles nearly as hard. “This industry is stable,” she says. “People use the [community newspaper] for scrapbooks. You’re never going to get that from the Internet.” Local businesses are also more stable and loyal advertisers.
The Advocate competes with the Kansas City Star, which has been cutting back local news coverage. That appears to be helping the Advocate. Circulation is growing and now tops 10,000 subscribers. The Star no longer sends reporters to cover local government meetings, leaving the Advocate as the main source of information about their community.