ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JOEL KLAASSEN, PUBLISHER
When we launched the Hillsboro Free Press in August 1998, our goal was to publish a newspaper that was well read and served the advertising needs of area businesses.
To let us know how we’re doing, we’ve always valued receiving scientific data that is relevant to our geographic situation.
Now we’ve got more to share with you.
The Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo., completed a circulation audit in March 2002. The audit was requested and paid for by the Iowa-based Midwest Free Community Papers Association, of which we are members.
We want to share highlights from the audit with you. It was encouraging to learn from the president of the auditing company that we fall within, and even exceed, national averages-which includes audits of newspapers that have been in business for 20 years or more and do not have print competition in their market area.
Choosing a random starting point in the appropriate distribution zip codes, the CVC attempted to contact every 10th resident in our market. In the end, the CVC interviewed 252 residents from Oct. 1, 2001, through Dec. 28, 2001, and Monday, March 18, through Friday, March 22, between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. All respondents identified themselves as 18 or older.
The CVC interviews indicated that 250 of those 252 households (99.2 percent) receive the Free Press on a regular basis and that 75.6 percent indicate they normally read or look through it.
The study revealed that an average of 1.55 people read each copy of our newspaper-a number more than twice as large as the one frequently applied to us by another newspaper in our market.
Just as gratifying is that 81 percent of those surveyed said they frequently purchase products or services from ads seen in the Free Press. The national average is 74.4 percent.
In addition to calling households, the CVC interviewed and visited drop-off locations chosen randomly from our route list where we deliver our newspaper in bulk-such as convenience stores, restaurants and the like.
The CVC interviews indicate that 100 percent of those locations report receiving the Free Press on a regular basis and that less than 15 percent of those newspapers are returned to us unclaimed.
What do all these numbers say? Well, they tell us-and you-that (1) the circulation numbers we report are honest ones; (2) the Free Press is widely read in addition to being widely distributed; and (3) readers use our ads to make purchasing decisions.
That’s pretty darn good news.
Gratified as we are, we’d be the first to tell you we have a lot of room to improve-and we’re working hard to do that.
As always, we welcome your help. At the Free Press, every household in our distribution area and every opinion counts. We may not be able to accommodate every good idea, but it might stir our imagination as we try to stir yours.