The Readership Institute provided the ASNE
Small Newspapers committee with the following
criteria to assess the small newspapers' readership-building
The newspaper has a good strong blend of news topics: intensely local,
government and politics, lifestyle, education, religion etc.
Consider how well marquee pages, such as
the front page, convey this variety.
Enterprise, or news the newspaper discovers
(i.e. not event-based) is a significant
part of the mix.
In-paper content promotion
The newspaper points readers to content inside
the newspaper that day (includes rails,
strips, boxes, refers).
The newspaper points readers to content in
The promos are attention-getting and effective;
Variety of writing styles
The newspaper uses forms in addition to the
inverted pyramid to tell stories and convey
information — e.g. feature-style approach;
Q&A; break-out boxes; graphics; lists.
Stories have a point, get to it quickly,
and are clearly-written.
Go and do information
Where to, how-to, how much, who to call;
directions, locator maps; where to go for
more information on a subject (e.g. web sites,
books, TV programs).
Listings, briefs etc, are organized and presented
for reader utility i.e., in ways that respond
to readers’ interests and how they
Reporting institutional stories in ways that
are relevant to consumers/citizens
Less of what the town council decided and
more of how it affects people, what it means
Looks out for my interests
At a basic level, gives me things to do;
At a higher level, is a watchdog.
Something to talk about
Content that would make me want to share
it with a friend or colleague;
"hey Martha" stories; things you can imagine
the local talk radio show picking up; water
People like me
This newspaper is for and about "average" people
in this community.
Stories about ordinary people.
Photos and content that reflect the life
of the community.
Content that would interest younger adults
Events that appeal to them.
Issues that concern them.
Stories and photos featuring them.
Issues of general interest include their
The newspaper exhibits personality
It stands for something.
It gives people something to talk about.
It is more than just a chronicler of news
The newspaper conveys that it cares about
the community and readers (evidence could
include an editor’s column addressing
reader concerns; stories focusing on the
future health/well-being of the community;
ample letters to the editor).
Stong, crisp and inviting.
Appropriately sized to signal a clear hierarchy of story importance.
The newspaper approaches "routine" stories
with enthusiasm and creativity.
Headlines are strong, crisp, inviting.