Local journalism was once the mainstay of our communities. Through it, government officials were held accountable for their actions, local residents remained connected, and major issues were brought to light and resolved.
As more media outlets have appeared and more platforms compete for the attention of their chosen demographic, the voice of local journalism is oftentimes drowned out (or merely overlooked). With that in mind, Newsday wanted to remind readers of the value of local journalism and show them the way that it was affecting their day-to-day life in Long Island, New York.
Newsday launched the “Supporting Local Journalism” campaign to show readers how local journalism affects the community in both large and small ways. It wanted to show that its reporters and the coverage they provide are a catalyst for change and can inspire both connection and action within the community. And such change and inspiration are only accomplished by having journalists who are embedded in the community, attending local board meetings, finding human-interest stories in area neighborhoods, and following injustices from the crime scene to the courthouse.
While there was much to convey in this campaign, the challenge was to find a compelling way to do it. Newsday chose to let readers see local journalism through the eyes of its reporters. It selected five stories to showcase, all of which had a direct effect on local residents, then featured the reporter from each story as part of the campaign.
The promotion reached across all platforms and included a landing page and video hub with all five reporters talking about their individual stories. Newsday also ran sponsored ads on Facebook.
The campaign was featured on the Newsday homepage and section front takeovers, and five weekly 60- and 30-second videos told the reporters’ stories in their own words. These aired across the optimum cable networks, select streaming services, and on Newsday.com.
Newsday also created 30-second radio commercials that aired on local stations via Connoisseur Media, a local radio station group. As part of the campaign, featured reporter Jim Baumbach spoke on the air with Connoisseur about the need to support local journalism and about his featured story on helmet safety.
Finally, print ads featured a quote from each of the reporters, and five custom e-mail blasts promoted each reporter and their coverage, offering a click-through to the journalism landing page.
Engaging an audience
The campaign resonated with the Newsday audience across all platforms. The sponsored ads on Facebook received more than one million impressions combined. The video commercial landing page received 12,804 page views in one month, and the e-mail blasts went to 120,000 subscribers every week for five weeks and averaged a 20% open rate.
A reader survey followed up on the campaign to determine how successful it had been. Nearly half of all respondents (49%) said they now believed local journalism would be threatened or disappear if readers didn’t subscribe, while 52% of the people responding to the survey said they believed paying for news provided better coverage. But perhaps most heartening of all was the fact that 61% said they believed Newsday made Long Island a better place to live.