The earliest memories of my childhood home involve newspapers.
It was the late 1970s and our house received three daily newspapers – The Buffalo Evening News, The Buffalo Courier-Express, and the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal – which my parents faithfully read and occasionally debated.
Newsprint was one of the fabrics of our lives.
So, it’s really no surprise that I spent more than 20 years in the business, writing stories in those very newspapers which continued to find a home on our family kitchen table.
As we celebrate National Newspaper Week, I hearken back to one of the truths that ran through the two decades of newsroom wisdom: News is what people are talking about.
In that spirit, here are reasons why newspapers still matter, organized by song titles from the current Queen of Newsmakers – Taylor Swift.
Blank Space. Every single day a newspaper starts with blank space that needs to be filled. And it is filled with diverse content. Readers find stories about local government, courts, and crime, along with insights about arts, culture, education, business, and sports.
Regardless of whether you stop to read an entire article, newspapers expose readers to a wide range of topics, shaping the agenda for the community. News may be “what people are talking about,” but people are also talking about what they see in the news – even if it’s just the headlines. Those blank spaces are opportunities to shape discussions not just for a day, but for months – even years – to come.
Shake It Off. When speaking truth to power, or asking questions of those in power, reporters must be comfortable ruffling feathers, in their quest for three sources and the truth. Newspapers, by and large, have the grit needed to check leaders in government, business, and education. Reporters continue to do the hard work of research, interviews, and analysis that according to a frequently quoted maxim, “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.” It’s not a job for the faint of heart.
You Need to Calm Down. Yes, the newspaper industry is facing financial challenges that are having significant impacts. Newsrooms are downsizing. Jobs, from copyediting to layout, are being consolidated and outsourced. Many newspapers have dropped daily print editions.
But newspapers are not dead.
They are evolving.
The 2023 Local Newspaper Study, conducted by the independent research firm Coda Ventures, found that when Americans say they “read the local newspaper” they mean accessing the content in any number of ways – from print to digital platforms. The study found that as many as 8 out of 10 Americans read print or digitally access newspaper content every month, with the majority citing newspapers as the most accurate source of original news reporting.
You Belong With Me. Take the opportunity during National Newspaper Week to get reacquainted with your local paper. Find the website. Pick up a copy. Follow the paper and its reporters on social media platforms. You may just find your worldview expanded and your sense of community deepened.
Amy Moritz is a public relations manager at The Martin Group. Her newspaper experience includes The (Olean) Times Herald and The Buffalo News.
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