Editorial: Journalism matters, especially locally
“Journalism matters. Now more than ever,” is the theme of this year’s National Newspaper Week, Oct. 7-13. Indeed, there’s always been a great need for news – so people can make decisions, learn of changes as well as threats, and to become involved and entertained.
Let’s add one more word: community.
Without the newspaper telling the day’s stories with real journalism, facts, balance and honesty, we would not know about situations involving water, roads, developments, schools, taxes, or Supreme Court nominations … as well as the “chicken dinner” items such as your neighbor’s recipes or their achievements (or plights). It also is where we celebrate your milestones and news.
As we told you this summer, The Daily Courier and its sister publications publish an average of 100 local stories per week. Along with news reports, our newsroom teams post about 350 additional information items each week on the newspaper’s websites, such as dCourier.com. These include community happenings, letters to the editor, announcements, videos, photographs, and more.
We share a lot of stories about our communities – even our own, and take pride in what we do each day. The work that goes into gathering, fact-checking and publishing those stories is of great importance to us, and we strive to make them interesting and useful for the people who live here.
We hear a lot these days about what’s not real — so-called fake news and alternative facts and the non-stop stream of internet-based noise, disruptions and misinformation.
Yet, the job of newspapers has never been more challenging.
Years ago, newspaper circulation grew faster than the country’s population. But since the 1980s, newspaper circulation went on a steady decline.
At the same time, newspapers remain the top choice for people seeking reliable information. More than half of all Americans subscribe or pay for newspapers or access to their websites. Get this: America’s newspaper audience exceeds today’s TV news watchers. Less than 5 percent of this audience tune into FOX, CNN or MSNBC, according to a National Newspaper Association survey.
Sadly, we use Facebook for faceless conversations, and we won’t accept that social media is very often anti-social. No amount of tweets will protect the public’s right to know or watchdog our government – which we do.
What is in our future? Cars will soon drive themselves and keyboards may disappear from computers and offices. All news may be delivered to our phones or even via brain implants. Who knows?
The term “newspaper” may soon define something that has nothing to do with ink or paper, just like Xerox used to mean making copies or an iron horse was actually a train. Newspaper may become a misnomer the way “service station,” “ice box” or “tin foil” all refer to vanishing artifacts.
The real matter here is not so much keeping newspapers real; rather it is keeping journalism real. Newspapers were born in times before electricity and telegraphs. Newspapers have witnessed and experienced changing realities, including the founding of this nation, world wars, space travel, personal computers, and next, robots and artificial intelligence.
Whatever reality that newspapers next face and keep news alive will require readers who understand that quality journalism matters, especially locally.
Editor’s Note – This week we celebrate National Newspaper Week, Oct. 7-13; watch for more opinions, columns and stories.