Not the end for newspapers

Published 8:54 pm Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I hear something like this every so often: “Aren’t you worried? All I hear is that newspapers are dying.”

That’s a two-part question, I reply, one that deserves a two-part reply.

“Yes, I’m worried, but mainly about things like nuclear missiles in Iran and why they can’t make a zero calorie Hershey’s with almonds. But newspapers, at least the ones I work with? No, I’m not worried about that.

“And no, newspapers aren’t dying. They are just going through some growing pains.”

Growing pains. That phrase is often associated with the unexplained aching of youth transitioning into adulthood. Newspapers are going through the same thing: transitioning, altering, changing. The end result will, hopefully, be a better product and a better industry as a whole.

But, as Mark Twain once said, the rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated.

What you won’t hear on the nightly news is the fact that community newspapers have weathered the economic storm fairly well. Our advertisers and subscribers are loyal and much appreciated.

Also, the unique nature of what we do has helped us adapt a little quicker than larger operations.

Where else, for example, can you read about the town’s homecoming queen or the largest tomato of the season? Community newspapers feature honor rolls, weddings and engagements and high school sports. We cover the news that matters most to you.

That’s what makes us unique and makes us a partner with our readers, as opposed to just a dispenser of statistics.

Times aren’t perfect, of course. A community’s economic downturn impacts a newspaper just as it does other suppliers of services. However, it’s our goal to be economically stable enough to provide for our employees and our readers. We rely on our advertisers and subscribers to do that.

No one knows what the future holds for anything, much less a particular industry. The challenges we face—mainly from the free access to information via the internet—are real. However, whether you’re interested in homecoming queens or political news, someone has to compile the information in a way that it can be understood. It’s our job to do that and, even if that information is about nothing more than giant tomatoes, we plan to keep doing it long into the future.