Weekly newspaper in Adair County does a special section on health and sends it to everyone in the county
Special sections on health are good for community newspapers and their readers. Health-care providers have money for advertising in such sections, and a section focused on health can have more impact on readers than individual, occasional stories.
Based on a pilot project it oversaw in 2007, the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues began recommending to rural newspapers that they schedule health sections as part of editions that are mailed to every postal customer in a paper’s home county, a standard circulation-building technique. If a newspaper wants to help improve the health of its community, why not reach everyone in the community?
Last week, one Kentucky newspaper did that. The Adair County Community Voice of Columbia included a 10-page broadsheet section on health in an edition that was mailed to everyone in the county. And though it got no advertising from the local public hospital, with which it has been embroiled in an open-meetings dispute, it did get ads from hospitals in other counties.
Newspapers can mail up to 10 percent of their annual circulation to non-subscribers in their home county at subscriber rates, and can sell “sponsored circulation” to pay the extra cost of printing and postage for the extra copies. The 2007 pilot project with another Kentucky weekly, The Berea Citizen, found that non-subscribers said they were more likely to subscribe if the paper regularly included health information. For a copy of the report on the project, click here. The health section is not online, but PDFs of its pages are posted on the Institute website in a 4.4 MB file, here.