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Don’t rely on conventional wisdom

Have you ever been absolutely certain of something only to find out later you were dead wrong?

Conventional wisdom makes for strong arguments though.

Recently, one of our reporters poked a hole in the long-standing belief that crime committed by teenagers rises during the summer months when they’re out of school. Everyone — including local law enforcement officers — believed it to be true.

But, at least based on the number of teens arrested, the truth is that far less teens are arrested during the summer months than during the height of the school year.

The facts have a way of sort of flipping conventional wisdom upside down.

The newspaper you’re holding — or the screen on which you’re looking if you’re reading this digitally — is also surrounded by misconceptions.

A couple of years ago, the death of newspapers was widely heralded — ironically mostly by newspapers.

Sadly, like in the teenage crime issue, we’ve let our beliefs get far ahead of the actual truth.

Countless new wave gadgets and apps have come along aiming to cut off the head of newspapers and claim victory.

While certainly the landscape has changed since the newspaper’s heyday, the belief that no one reads newspapers anymore isn’t rooted in the truth.

A study of Mississippians and how they use media was released last month by its author American Opinion Research.

The numbers may surprise you.

Think no one reads newspapers anymore?

Think again.

Apparently, quite a few do.

AOR’s research indicates that seven in 10 Mississippians use a newspaper and/or a newspaper’s digital products each week.

That bit of research means just more than 1.5 million residents in the Magnolia state turn to newspapers for information.

Almost six in 10 say printed newspapers are the one local advertising source they relay on the most.

Surprised yet?

If you’re a traditionalist who regularly reads printed newspapers, the reach newspaper websites have might surprise you.

Almost half of all Mississippi Internet users — 45 percent — visit a local newspaper website each month. That’s more Mississippians reading websites than listening to all radio stations during their most peak hours.

AOR’s media use research did, however, show some things one would expect to be true.

Only 28 percent of radio listeners said they listen to commercials. Forty-five percent said they ignore them outright.

Eighteen percent said they change the station when a commercial comes on the air.

If you want people to read your message, mailing it might not be a good idea based on the group’s research.

Nearly three-quarters — 72 percent — of Mississippians say they either glance at direct mail pieces or throw them away immediately without even reviewing them.

Once again, the research proved me wrong. I’d have guessed the number of direct mail throwaways would have been much, much higher.

If you’d like a copy of the research, please let me know, and I can provide one.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.