Commentary: Newspapers are still delivering readers and viewers for customers
Who said newspapers are dinosaurs, extinct, obsolete?
I don't think so. Newspapers today, both in print and online, have more readers today than ever.
This trend was again evident during recent Red River Valley flooding, when The Forum and inforum.com became the go-to sources for accurate and up-to-date information.
In March alone, inforum delivered 17.3 million pages to 3 million visitors, 588,000 of which were unique visitors. Those visitors spent an average of 16 minutes on the site. In comparison, 12 years ago during the flood of 1997, inforum delivered 125,000 page views the entire month of March.
During the flood, inforum integrated with Facebook Connect, which garnered more than 10,000 users who have synced their inforum accounts with their Facebook accounts.
Meanwhile, single-copy sales of The Forum, those not delivered to subscribers, increased 10 to 15 percent during this year's flood.
And The Forum and inforum are not alone in these successes. Web sites for the Grand Forks Herald and Jamestown Sun also experienced record traffic during March and early April. Forum Communications Co., parent company of The Forum and inforum.com, has 800,000 registrants to its Web sites.
At the West Central Tribune, its wctrib.com Web site in March delivered 1,097,369 pages to 223,240 visitors, 48,569 of which were unique.
What does all this mean?
It means people are interested in current, accurate and reliable information.
Many so-called experts who say newspapers are dying forget the important role we play in society each day. Reporting on everything from city, county and state governments to prep sports, obituaries and senior citizen activities is information informed citizens want and need. We protect the public's right to know each and every day and we report in an accurate and responsible manner.
For the most part, newspapers and their Web sites are taken for granted until a disaster takes place, like the recent floods. The successes mentioned above illustrates that when people need to know, they go back to the sources they trust.
Yes, our business is changing, but newspapers have the tools in place to provide you with the information you want and need, be it delivered by the printed word, the Internet, cell phone, Kindle or any platform you choose.
Some so-called experts said long ago that TV and radio would kill newspapers. Instead, at Forum Communications Co., we now all work together to deliver the best and most information to our audience. WDAY-AM 970 radio and The Forum have joined to create the largest and most experienced newsroom in the Red River Valley. WDAY-TV provides video to inforum, in addition to wday.com.
Our company is well prepared to deliver information to our readers, viewers, listeners and advertisers. Rest assured that after 130 years, we're just getting our second wind.
William C. Marcil is publisher of The Forum of Fargo/Moorhead and chief executive officer of Forum Communications Co.