History of CCNA’S readership research bureau

Since the 1997 CCNA strategic planning document was published, the membership has encouraged CCNA to pursue research on behalf of the national body. The third point of the key objectives was ÔÇÿdeveloping industry research and statistics.ÔÇÖ

But prior to that, in 1995 the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association hired Joanne OÔÇÖConnell to do a readership study of its members. In 1999, the OCNA did a small readership study of papers in Eastern Ontario along Lake Ontario. Larger chain papers in Canada have regularly proceeded with readership studies.

Two years passed before CCNAÔÇÖs board reviewed the objective of developing industry research and statistics. In November 1999, a task force was established. The Research Task Force (RTF) was made up of Chair Jim Cumming, Fort Frances (ON) Times, with the following members: Gerry Dorge, Peter Speck, Lynn Chernin, Dennis Merrell, Bruce Penton, Greg Duncan, Kathy Hannigan, Clint Szakacs, and Don Lamont.

The RTF was initially to review recommendations in the Year 2000 business plan to create a research and industry statistics department at the associationÔÇÖs national office. It began its task by requesting that each of the regional associations poll their members to determine what types of research would be most valued.

From each regionÔÇÖs informal results, newspapers across Canada agreed that a readership study for newspapers similar to the Print Measurement Bureau was their most important need. That information was reinforced when industry leaders from newspapers and advertisers were brought together in February 2000 for a summit to examine what actions CCNA should be taking on behalf of their members.

From the initial work of the taskforce, it was recognized that the Canadian community newspaper industry lacked credible and accessible title and non-title based readership research for national advertising sales, and this included product consumption data. This lack of information places association and chain rep houses at a competitive disadvantage in the national advertising market relative to other media. Member newspapers also need high quality, low cost, and title based readership research for local use.

With that mandate, the RTF then proceeded put together a proposal to CCNAÔÇÖs board to proceed with a study to develop industry standards for readership. In April 2000, the board gave approval to hire a consultant. The consultantÔÇÖs task was to develop standards for a rules-based model for readership research at all levels. These standards included:

┬À Be able to be approved by a tripartite committee comprising industry representatives, advertising agencies and advertisers,
┬À Take into consideration the diversity of the community newspaper industry, with many owners and titles both large and small,
┬À Take into account cost constraints, and
┬À Take into account CARF and other related standards (PMRS), as well as other readership research studies i.e., NADbank, PMB, etc.

The standards also included, but were not limited to, the following areas:

┬À The questions asked and how they are asked,
┬À The method of conducting the survey ÔÇô telephone, mail, face-to-face, or focus groups ÔÇô highlighting the requirements involved with each,
┬À The method of pulling the sample ÔÇô random, population profile, response level or sample size (percentage of completed interviews/call backs), weighting responses to the population, and
┬À Third party objective data input (e.g., response counting and tabulation); data and statistical analysis; and tests to check for validity and reliability of data.

At the RTFÔÇÖs annual meeting in July 2000, the task force approved the hiring of GPC and DSA Baron to conduct the study and make recommendations to CCNA. CCNAÔÇÖs board approved the funding of this initial study.

The task force was able to look at other media models such as Bureau of