Yesterday was the last day of National Newspaper Week, which is meant to recognize the service of newspapers.
I tend to be somewhat dismissive of such awareness campaigns. Of course, I know the unique value newspapers play in their communities but have always believed a newspaper’s content is what best raises awareness. If we’re providing meaningful, engaging content, people will notice and feel compelled to buy a subscription or buy an ad to help support our efforts.
But that’s just not the case.
Over the past 15-plus years, papers across the country have seen circulation and ad revenue plummet. According to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism, more than 2,000 newspapers across the country have closed since 2004.
Many — if not most — of those shuttered newsrooms staffed reporters who were likely the only ones consistently showing up to public meetings and asking questions. Sitting through school board, municipal government and county government meetings is often mind-numbingly boring, with some meetings lasting hours on end. But it’s crucial that a community has someone doing that and then reporting on the boards’ actions in a fair manner. Democracy doesn’t work without it. Yet for thousands of communities across the country, that role stands unfilled. I would guess hundreds — if not thousands — of additional newspapers are hanging on by a thread.
Our area has a wealth of local media. No fewer than five newspapers and two television stations provide regular and sometimes overlapping coverage. None of us — television stations included — are immune from the pressures on traditional local media, though.
So for that reason, I want to tell our readers and advertisers how much we appreciate them.
Thank you for supporting us when we get it right but especially when we get it wrong.
For all the times you’ve decided to stick with us when your paper is late, when your sports team isn’t covered as much as you’d like, when we misspell your child’s name, when we run your ad on the wrong day, THANK YOU for choosing to support newspapers. We need that support.
In exchange, we pledge to continue asking questions and providing responsible journalism. We pledge to continue aiming for high quality publications. We pledge to encourage community-building.
If you’re not able to subscribe or buy an ad, there are other ways you can help:
- Send news tips to email@example.com or call 662-328-2424 x135
- Send sports tips to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 662-328-2424 x126
- Write letters to the editor at email@example.com or drop them at our office
- Let us know when you see ways we can improve by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or me directly at email@example.com
- If you use advertisements in ANY newspaper, mention you saw the ad when you’re in the store. This helps tremendously.
So, on the tail end of National Newspaper Week 2022, I don’t want to dwell on the importance of this publication. I want to dwell on the importance of YOU, our supporters. Thank you all.
Peter Imes is the publisher of The Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peter Imes is publisher of The Dispatch. You can email him at email@example.com.
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