Fort Frances Times published Jim Cumming received the Canadian Community Newspaper Association “President’s Award” on Saturday during its annual convention in Saskatoon.
The presentation took place the same evening Cumming officially was elected first vice-president of the CCNA, to which the Times has belonged since 1934.
The award—a hand-blown Nova Scotia crystal bowl—recognized Cumming’s initiative in leading a task force that’s in the process of studying readership at 680 community newspapers across Canada.
“It’s very nice to be recognized by the [CCNA],” Cumming said yesterday, adding the presentation came as a “total shock.”
Cumming said the purpose of the readership project he’s heading, launched in November, 1999, is to maintain “the health and well-being” of the community newspaper industry by determining ways of increasing advertising sales.
The study began by asking marketing people, advertisers, and media buyers across the country what information they required to make informed buying decisions.
“The unique thing about this is that it will be the largest readership study in Canada,” Cumming noted, adding the task force will survey readers in more than 600 communities.
The task force is made up of 14 advertisers, marketers, and publishers representing every region in the country, and includes participation from both French and English language markets.
Cumming said launching the study was necessary to provide up to date information to advertisers in a form they can use.
While other communications industries have kept up with the increasingly sophisticated methods of buying ads, community newspapers have lagged behind, he said.
Cumming also noted the project will be continuous in order to keep up with changes in the industry. “Newspapers will participate on an annual ongoing basis. The information will constantly be replenished,” he said.
The task force will launch pilot studies in five centres across Canada in September and then compile the information in December, Cumming said.
He noted the information will start being used by advertising agencies in January.
In related news, the Times earned a national award in the 2000 CCNA Better Newspaper Competition over the weekend, taking third-place in the “Best Agricultural Edition” category.