Your questions are answered here!

Published 3:57 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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Questions are always deserving of answers and I’ve made it a personal choice to be truthful when I do respond to someone’s inquisitive nature. After all, in my line of work as a reporter, I would expect the same upon posing a question.

Two questions I’ve been asked most frequently over the past year or so are (1) when am I going to retire; and (2) what will happen to the newspaper when you leave?

As for retirement, I have no “fixed” date. I plan to work as long as my health will allow and as long as my boss continues to allow me the opportunity to continue doing a job I so dearly love. 2024 marks my 47th year of continuous employment in the newspaper field. Forty-three of those years have been spent with Roanoke-Chowan Publications.

As to what will happen when I do choose to retire, I fully expect the beat will go on. While our staff here may be small in number, we are blessed to have the “know-how” to collectively get the job done. I fully expect and have confidence in Holly Taylor stepping into my role as the Editor and trust her judgment to hire her replacement as a staff writer.

Meanwhile, we have seasoned veterans in Judy Farmer and Anna Phipps handling advertising sales and design. They, along with Holly, also pull double duty in taking care of clerical work in our office.

As a sidebar to those two questions is another thing we hear every so often in the local community. Folks will want to know if we’re still in business. Yep…we’re still here, publishing three newspapers per week (the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald on Wednesdays and Saturdays and the Gates County Index on Thursdays), Front Porch Living (a quarterly life styles magazine), Real Estate Guide (quarterly), and keeping our website updated every day. You can’t find the quality and quantity of Roanoke-Chowan area news anywhere else other than through our print and digital media.

Then there are the annual products we publish: Crossroads (February), Black History Month (February), Ag Life (March), Spring Home & Garden (March), Graduation Edition (June), FYI (June), Watermelon Festival Guide (July), Fall Sports Schedules (August), Fall Harvest (September), Christmas in Murfreesboro (November), Season Greetings / Letters to Santa (December), and a Photo Calendar (December).

All of that continues no matter who sits in the Editor’s office.

And what about the future of newspapers in general? I’m glad you asked.

A study conducted by Coda Ventures found that 6.6 million North Carolina adults rely on print or digital newspapers for news and information. More than half of North Carolina adults use newspaper advertising to make important buying decisions.

A breakdown of that study shows a good mix of readers who prefer both styles of readership (digital and print). Eighty-six percent of those taking part in the study cite local newspapers and newspaper websites as the most trusted source of information.

When it comes to public notices, 72 percent of North Carolinians say they prefer reading public notices in local print and digital newspapers. Sixty-eight percent believe that the government should be required to publish public notices in newspapers.

The data shows that community-based newspapers (such as Roanoke-Chowan Publications) rank #1 in providing its readers with local news, local entertainment, political issues, personal safety issues, and local high school sports.

Community-based newspapers are simply that…providing news that is locally sourced or news from the regional/state/national levels that will have a direct impact at the local level.

Ask yourself this question…when was the last time you saw a regional TV news crew report live from a R-C area town or county government meeting; or report on the good deeds of one of our local citizens; or cover one of our local high school events? The TV “talking heads” only come here when there’s something bad to report.

According to the study, two million people statewide (ages 18-34) read newspapers. The largest share of newspaper readers across the state are between the ages of 35-65 (3.3 million; with 56 percent of those getting their local newsroom on their smartphone) while 1.2 million readers are ages 65-plus.

When it comes to advertising, consumers rely on newspaper ads when deciding on what brands, products, and local services to buy. In the study, fifty-six percent of consumers shop for products via newspaper ads (print and digital). Twenty-nine percent of consumers say they listen to radio advertising when making their purchase decisions.

Millions of newspaper readers across our state say they plan to use print and digital advertising to make the following purchases over the next 12 months:

Groceries (4,944,000)

Drug Store products (3,362,000)

Healthcare/Medical services (2,920,000)

Electronic Equipment (2,600,000)

Home Improvement (2,300,000)

Appliances (2,272,000)

Banking/Financial Services (2,220,000)

Home Furnishings (2,152,000)

Home/Auto Insurance (2,020,000)

Automobiles (1,915,000)

Optometrist/Eyewear (1,700,000)

Sporting Goods (1,600,000)

So that leads me to ask two questions of my own: Are you a regular reader/advertiser of any of the products we publish? If not, why not?

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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