In 2005, the story of Hurricane Katrina and the devastating aftermath it left on New Orleans dominated news headlines. At the same time, the Iraqi war was in full swing, and major news outlets across America covered stories like the London Bombings, the death of Pope John Paul II, a massive earthquake and tsunami that ravaged much of Southeast Asia, and the controversial start to President George W. Bush’s second term in office. In short, it was a year filled with major world events, calamities, and uncertainty, though not unlike any other news cycle we have experienced each year since.

According to data from the News Media Alliance, 2005 (just 15 years ago) was also the year in which advertisers spent $49.4 billion on newspaper advertising – the most ever.

Advertising during times of uncertainty.

Today, consumer demand for news has never been greater, yet, in recent years, some brands have chosen to avoid the news (though that sentiment is now shifting).

Regardless of how and where news is distributed in the future, huge audiences will be there, and the headlines of the past and present are likely to be the headlines of the future – and that shouldn’t dissuade advertisers.

Many of the brand safety concerns marketers have are normal and understandable, though brand safety means different things to different advertisers. The reporting occurring in cities and towns across the U.S. right now is helping to shape our future. Now is the time for brands to lean into the news.

  • Marketers have always been able to reach engaged audiences across newspapers and news sites, confident their ads wouldn’t appear next to misinformation, hate speech, or futile arguments laced with toxicity.
  • However, in recent years (and especially in recent months) brands have relinquished much of their confidence and control to social platforms, which have proven that they are disinterested or incapable of regulating themselves to better protect their communities, advertising partners, and society at large.
  • This runs counter to trust-based journalism, and the protections premium news publishers strive to deliver to their readers and advertisers.

The power of LOCAL.

As the coronavirus pandemic unfolded, and the ongoing movement to combat racial injustice swept across the nation, more Americans than ever before turned to news outlets, particularly at the local level, to stay safe and informed. Today’s biggest news stories — while national (and global) in scale — are deeply local, and their impacts are felt in communities across America.

In the month of March, the USA TODAY NETWORK reached 173M unique visitors — nearly eight out of 10 adults in the U.S. — and saw record numbers of subscribers to its local properties. A sign that audiences are paying attention, and are willing to pay for local journalism.

The importance of trusted media platforms.

A study published towards the end of 2019 indicated that six in 10 Americans believe local news media keeps their communities well-informed. By contrast, trust in social media is clearly at an all-time low, and adversely impacting the health of our nation and democracy.

As more advertisers are seeking alternatives, many are aligning with trusted journalism and forging a deeper connection with local communities across America. The USA TODAY NETWORK was formed in 2015 with that very premise in mind: a scaled local-to-national media company built on reader trust, award-winning reporting, and 5,000 journalists who live in the communities and alongside the readers they serve. It is also a scaled advertising platform delivering results for brands.

A vibrant news industry is paramount to civic life and our democracy. Supporting journalism – either as consumer or advertiser – has never been more critical to our country’s future. We can continue the conversation and, together, be a force for good. 

If you would like to support local small businesses across the country, please visit Support Local.

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