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Rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated

While I do have a dog in this fight, my belief there is a place for newspapers in our society has held firm for a long time.

Despite past trends that have shown the newspaper business is trending further and further down, and companies like the Tribune Co. and Gannett struggling financially, I have held firm that there is a place for newspapers.

During the Thanksgiving holidays, I even had a discussion with family about the subject.

Family member, “The days of print journalism are dead.”

Me, “I really don’t think so. While newspapers may never be what they were to America 50 years ago, there is a significant place for us.”

My feeling was bolstered by Andy Rooney on “60 Minutes” during that same time frame in which he lamented the decline of the newspaper business, saying that newspapers are still the most trusted form of media out there.

Part of Rooney’s column went like this: “There has been a steady decline in the circulation of almost all newspapers. But it’s strange because there is still no decline in the faith that people put in their newspaper. Readers check their newspaper every morning to see whether what they saw on television the night before is really true… We read our newspapers too for all the good pieces of information that television has no time for… Newspapers are subjected to a kind of scrutiny that television news is not. If it’s on television, you don’t cut it out, save it and check the facts later.”

It seems Rooney was right and I, at least for the time being, feel vindicated.

A recent study shows that, while the Internet continues to surge as a source of national and international news, newspapers have been holding their own.

According to the Pew study, “The newspaper percentage has actually held steady since 2005, while the Internet gallops ahead of print and begins to make progress toward the No. 1 source, TV. Television saw a four percent decline last year, and a much bigger decline, 11 percent, among younger people.”

In fact, during the last year, among readers 18 to 29 years of age, newspapers saw a five percent increase as their main news source.

During that same time frame, television lost 11 percent and the Internet gained 25 percent.

That bodes well for the newspaper industry.

The question remains if newspapers can hold this little bit of momentum, or if all of this has to do with young people reading about Barack Obama in last year’s election.

Regardless, it is positive news about an industry that hasn’t much to yell about in the last 15 years.

Maybe we should take Andy Rooney’s comments to heart — that quality and depth are more important in the end.

In other news …

A recent newspaper story in the Birmingham (Ala.) News, stated that one of its suburbs, Mountain Brook, is one of the nation’s 10 most prosperous communities, according to a University of Montevallo professor who has studied new Census Bureau figures.

Stephen Higley, a professor of urban geography, maintains a web site charting the nation’s most affluent neighborhoods.

His calculations are based on his examination of average household income for communities with at least 20,000 residents.

The only Mississippi area that made the top 1,000 on Higley’s list is the Eastover-East Manor Estates of Jackson, which ranks No. 634.

The average mean household income is $211,105. The list also shows the races of people who live in the area, which breaks down into 2.1 percent black; 2.1 percent Asian; 1.1 percent Hispanic and 94.7 percent non-Hispanic white.

Contact MBJ managing editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com.

About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.

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