April 16, 2015

Al Jazeera America suspects it may have found America’s smallest two-paper town

Al Jazeera America paints an interesting picture this week of the media landscape in Crawfordsville, Ind., population 15,000.

Crawfordsville is home to two daily newspapers, the Journal Review and The Paper. Al Jazeera America writer Kevin Williams speculates in the article that Crawfordsville might be the smallest U.S. town with competing daily newspapers. Data on the number of two-paper towns is hard to come by, Williams writes. He interviewed media business analyst Rick Edmonds, who said Crawfordsville “sounds like a good bet” to be the smallest.

Journalists quoted in the story make great observations about the value of local ownership and editorial control. They also stress the importance of documenting daily life in their communities. Jack Lule, chair at Lehigh University’s Weinstock Center for Journalism, makes this point in the article:

Two-newspaper towns survive for a good reason: despite all the possibilities of digital media, local coverage still is handled best by local newspapers. People have all sorts of access to news on Washington politics, the latest airline disaster, Mideast tensions and other national and international stories. But local politics, obituaries, sports, concerts, street closings and news stories on that level still are reported only by the local newspaper. 

Is Crawfordsville really is the smallest town in the U.S. with two daily newspapers? I don’t know of any smaller towns with two dailies, although there are many rural communities with competing weekly publications. Oneida, Tenn., population 5,000, has two strong weekly newspapers.

I’d love to hear from you, blog readers. Do you know of any smaller towns with competing daily newspapers?

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