A key info source for Bird

In this special report, Strategy asked a cross-section of consumers to write about their community newspaper-reading habits.For the purpose of this report, we have defined community newspapers as those that are local in nature and published less frequently than a daily.As...

In this special report, Strategy asked a cross-section of consumers to write about their community newspaper-reading habits.

For the purpose of this report, we have defined community newspapers as those that are local in nature and published less frequently than a daily.

As in our previous special reports – How Consumers Read Newspapers (April 6) and How Consumers Read Magazines (July 13) – we asked our volunteers, who represent different age groups, occupations and educational backgrounds, to tell us what motivates them to read community newspapers.

As well, we asked them how they approach the task, and whether advertising affects their decision to buy particular products or services.

Their accounts begin on this page with Judy Lee, of Abbotsford, b.c. and Betty Ann Bird, of Garson, Ont.

Every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, The Northern Life, Sudbury’s community newspaper with a circulation of 48,600, is delivered to my home in Garson, Ont., a small town on the outskirts of Sudbury.

I look forward to receiving this paper as it gives me an opportunity to catch up on what is going on in and around the Sudbury area. As I do not receive the local daily newspaper (The Sudbury Star), the community newspaper has become one of my main sources of information.

One of the reasons I read the Northern Life is that it gives me a local perspective on international stories. For example, one reporter is currently writing about a Somalian man living in Sudbury who is trying to rescue his wife in Somalia.

The newspaper also writes about less exciting issues, but ones that still affect the local community.

Last year, for example, the paper publicized a campaign to raise money for a surveillance system for a downtown pedestrian underpass. The campaign was successful and the system will soon be installed.

One of my favorite parts of the newspaper is the lifestyle section.

It features regular columns by local writers on different topics. Some are general in nature (for example, a how-to column for amateur home video enthusiasts), while others are aimed at a fairly narrow audience.

One column, called ‘In the Bush,’ recently told readers what plants you could pick to make wild teas. Even though I may not use the information, I almost always read the columns.

The community briefs section of the newspaper, which lists community events by date, also gets my attention.

Recently, our community had a small festival. I used the briefs to help me plan which events we would attend. I also look through this section to keep me posted on dates for swimming and baseball registration.

The ‘police beat’ is interesting. I always read it just in case they write about someone I know.

The very first thing that I like to do when I receive my paper is to read through the flyer inserts.

My weekly shopping trips are often organized with the help of these flyers and the other store advertisements found throughout the paper. I also find the advertised specials and coupons I clip help me to save money every week.

After I have clipped my last coupon and checked my last sale item, it is time to move on to page one.

I read the paper from front to back, skipping the sports section.

I also pass by the stereo and furniture store ads, you know, the ones that try to sell you 50 different items, all crammed into a space no larger than a piece of photocopy paper.

They try to bombard your senses with an overabundance of information, hoping that you will set foot in the store so that high pressure sales staff can convince you to spend, spend, spend. I really do not like them.

The ads that I really do like are the clear, concise, to-the-point ones, like Eaton’s, for example. It has several smaller ads placed strategically throughout the paper.

I always look at the classified ads, too. I like to see what jobs are available, even though I am not looking. I also look at the ‘wanted-to-purchase’ section and, just out of curiosity, the personal ads and companions column.

In the past few years, our community newspaper has gone from being a weekly publication to a three-times-weekly newspaper.

By publishing the paper more often, I receive more current news and information, therefore, I think the community paper has improved.

Overall, I enjoy reading my community newspaper and look forward to its arrival every few days.

Betty Ann Bird, 30, is a homemaker and mother of two who lives in Garson, Ont.