Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Owner/Publisher Walter E. Hussman Jr. says his phone is ringing off the hook. Angry readers? Peeved subscribers?
Nope: Other publishers.
- Demographics: Little Rock is a fairly conservative market with an older population and a fairly low level of broadband Internet penetration. That may give a built-in edge to print, at least for now.
- Competition: Every paper faces more competition from Web sites and non-traditional publishers in its market than it probably realizes, and the Press-Democrat is no exception: craigslist is thriving in Little Rock, and Yelp seems to be getting a foothold. The city has its share of blogs and alternative print publications, too. But it's not exactly a media mecca, and the Democrat-Gazette probably has less to fear, for now, from big national Web sites encroaching on its turf—and audience. Take sports, for instance. Without any major pro sports teams, the city's main sports interest is the University of Arkansas' teams. That probably makes it harder for ESPN.com or other national sports sites to get a significant foothold in the market and provide obvious alternatives to the Democrat-Gazette's gated coverage. That's a situation not matched in other good-sized cities.
- Market position: The Democrat-Gazette claims that it has the largest percentage of market penetration of any major American daily (I've heard the same claim from at least two other papers, so let's just say its market penetration is excellent). That would indicate the Little Rock residents are particularly devoted to their newspaper and thus will be slower to switch to alternatives.