It’s kinda hard to think back to a time when social media has not ruled our lives (some will say “ruined” our lives) and shaped our reality. Really, it’s only been a less than 20 years since members of Facebook groups like the Hot Moms of Oxford, or the Smarmy Disenfranchised Whiners of Clarkston of the Badrichards in Goodrich have been able show how smart, even-headed and empathetic they are to each other.
Following social media posts nightly is great entertainment, and at times actually does provide quality information. I was trying to figure a way to tie together the notion of community newspapers and social media. I thought it would make a good chapter in the hallowed halls Don’t Rush Me. Then, I read a recent column by an Iowan publisher, Pete Wagner and thought, “No need to reinvent the wheel.” Below are some reasons Pete wrote in regards to community newspapers.
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“History has proven the printed record is the one society depends upon to recall past facts and interpret the present. Digital files can be fleeting, are mostly undocumented and often are nothing more than personal opinion or harmful propaganda.”
Some reasons your community needs and should support their local paper.
OUTREACH. Social media and locally produced websites, postings and blogs only reach select groups of like-minded followers. They only confirm the thoughts of a minority and split the community. Community papers reach deep into all the various social and economic levels to create consensus and positive action. Printed publications have a long shelf life. Printed papers are credible and are often referred to for everything from the high school basketball team’s conference record to which councilman voted what way during the latest tax issue.
READERSHIP. Contrary to populist edicts, the local paper still reaches readers of all age groups and all interests. That’s why papers put so much emphasis on publishing a well-edited, extensive mix of local news, scholastic and recreational sports, previews and coverage of local entertainment and family-fun activities as well as both opinion and commentary pieces. Even the local papers’ ads help guarantee cross-culture readership with information on everything from that week’s grocery specials to the “specially priced spring tune-ups at the local bike shop.”
PROFESSIONALISM. No one business is so well prepared to offer readers and advertisers a more professional mix of news and advertising services, The local paper can provide everything from quality writing and editing to fresh and effective design at one quick stop. Publication readers can be sure they will get a great, hometown publication complete with the latest details on everything they want to know. Advertisers can be equally sure their message will be perfectly presented to the exact audience they want to reach.
LOCAL EXPERTS. The local paper shares the ideas and opinions of local experts from the clergy to the local historian to hometown chefs in columns that both enlighten and cause readers to dig deeper and get more involved in the community. Those same columnists each have a local following who are potential customers at local stores.
A CONNECTION WITH THE FAMOUS. The local newspaper is often the first, and sometimes only, local stop for any politician, actor or artist, activists of other nationally or regionally known individuals visiting the community. Through their articles and photographs, the paper shares the excitement and purpose of the visit with the community.
THE PAPER IS NON-INTRUSIVE. Unlike Facebook and other social media sites, the newspaper keeps the reader’s names, addresses, views and interests private. The hometown paper does not collect and sell their reader’s comments, interests or secrets that are gleaned by reading the electronic exchanges between paying users of some international non-traditional information service.
PAPERS ARE ESSENTIAL. Newspaper reporters are everywhere that most citizens don’t have the time or opportunity to be. They attend meetings, interview sources, research facts, ask questions and create stories that keep voters, tax-payers and all interested citizens informed and involved. Hometown papers assure the future of their community by being a relentless watchdog of all that goes on around them. Without the local paper, the community would just be a group of individuals passing through the same geographic area. Without community papers, local businesses would have no customer base to whom to sell their goods.
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Thanks, Pete! And thank you readers who continue to support us. Send your comments to your ever-lovin’ hero (me) via email: DontRushDon@gmail.com