In this age of “fake news” the role of daily and weekly newspapers that focus on local news is more important than ever.
National Newspaper Week begins today and, at the risk of appearing self-serving, we think the celebration of what your local gazette can, and does, do is important.
First, though, it is fitting to dispel any lack of reality about what we do and how we do it. For one, it is hard work. Our reporters, our pressmen, our advertising people and those who work in circulation all do a pretty-much thankless job every day. And they do it well. The other notion we freely admit up front is we — along with every other newspaper in the nation — aren’t perfect. Far from it. We make mistakes. Newspapers are human endeavors which means — by our species — we are not perfect.
But we try. And we also make it a top priority to stand up and take responsibility for our mistakes, a fact that is often overlooked. How often, for example, does a high-profile government agency — or a private enterprise — stand up and take responsibility for an error?
But all that misses the general point of why newspapers — and National Newspaper Week — remain important. Newspapers are tied in a unique way into the very soul of America. For more than 200 years, newspapers uphold a key piece to the local, state and national discourse.
With the advent of “fake news” it is reasonable to believe newspapers are somehow irrelevant, but we believe America needs newspapers now more than ever. That’s because newspapers — at their best — provide a community with a high-profile honest broker. An institution that is not tied politically to any one party or individual but is, instead, loyal to the reader. That means approaching news events from a non-judgmental position on a path to finding the truth.
Do newspapers matter locally? We believe a good case could be made that they do. Just to use one example, a recent embezzlement scandal involving an economic development group here was hidden from view until this newspaper discovered it and began to ask some questions. That issue concerned residents because at least some of their money was funneled to fund the development group. Readers needed to know about his incident. Through us they did.
At best, a newspapers offer readers a virtual banquet of information every day. Without them, without an outside source to ask questions and seek answers American democracy would suffer.
We are not perfect. But we make a concerted effort every day to get it right because our loyalty will always rest with the most important source of all: The reader.