Thanks for the affirmation

Published 9:52 pm Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Two recent front-page news stories — one about our newspaper’s unprecedented readership, the other about a boatload of awards won by our news staff for editorial excellence — are inseparable.

The latter drives the former.

A typical Suffolk citizen has dozen of options for consuming news and advertising information. That 52 percent of adults in this community make the effort to pick up and read the Suffolk News-Herald every day speaks to the value of the content Editor Res Spears and his team produce.

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Such strong readership, documented by the Circulation Verification Council, is the ultimate reward for the journalists who chronicle our community’s people, institutions and events six days a week in print and 24/7 online.

Bonus affirmation came via the Virginia Press Association’s 2013 News Contest, in which journalistic peers put our newspaper side by side with other community dailies throughout the commonwealth and recognize the best. The News-Herald won 19 awards in writing, design and overall editorial excellence, with each member of our staff winning at least one award.

It was fitting that our sales staff, who daily sell our audience of Suffolk readers to advertisers, honored the news staff this month with a barbecue dinner and champagne toast. Without excellent news content, the sales reps understand, there would be no audience to sell. (Spears observed, astutely, that the relationship between departments is mutually beneficial; without the sales staff, he wouldn’t get a paycheck.)

Few print journalists can make the claim, much less back it up, that more people are reading their work can ever before. News-Herald journalists can.

Fifty-two percent market penetration is the highest in our newspaper’s 141-year history and the best reach, as far as we can tell, of any print, broadcast or digital medium.

The CVC, which audits the readership of thousands of publications in North America, confirmed that number by carefully scrutinizing our internal tracking records and by conducting an independent market survey of Suffolk adults about their news consumption and purchasing habits.

Here’s what else the CVC determined:

477.7 percent of our readers frequently purchase products or services from advertisements seen in the News-Herald.

464 percent of readers are between the ages of 25 and 54.

477 percent have an annual household income above $50,000.

472 percent attended college or graduated from college.

That’s a broad, diverse group that we’re proud to call our family. Thanks for the privilege of serving you.

Steve Stewart is publisher of the Suffolk News-Herald. His email address is steve.stewart@suffolknewsherald.com.