Thursday, October 09, 2014

Newspapers are the Foundation of Vibrant Communities

Written by David Burton, civic communication specialist
County Program Director - Greene County
Tel: (417) 881-8909

A recent visitor to my house noted that I had four different weekly newspapers on the kitchen counter. “If you have that many newspaper subscriptions, you must be rich,” said my friend, who confessed to never having subscribed to a newspaper in his entire life.

I wanted to cry in response to the fact that he had never subscribed to a newspaper, but I laughed instead. “I am not rich when it comes to money, but these communities are better off by having a weekly newspaper,” I said. “That is why I support local newspapers with my subscription.”

As a consumer, I know first-hand that most weekly newspaper subscriptions are reasonable. I have subscriptions to my hometown newspaper, the newspaper I managed, the newspaper in my community of residence and the newspaper in the community where I work. These newspapers keep me updated on government decisions, community events and the lives of my friends.

Despite our changing world, daily and weekly community newspapers remain a prime source for recording local news events. Newspapers document the lives of local citizens from birth to death. Newspapers chronical the decisions of city councils, county commissions, fire districts and school boards along with hometown school athletics and art programs.

Newspapers serve an important function in the American democratic process. When I was editing a weekly newspaper, I would say the newspaper was a “beacon of truth.” I still believe that is true in most communities. At the very least, quality newspapers aid in the well-being of the communities they serve.

Newspapers help protect our communities from destructive influences. Newspapers help to sound the alarm with accurate and complete coverage of sensitive or tragic community issues. The best community newspapers provide facts and editorials that help communities make decisions. They also help celebrate individual and collective achievements in the community, offer congratulations and join in the community celebration.

Newspapers have an important role in small and large communities across this country.  Despite what a few might have you believe, newspapers are not dead. Weekly newspapers are doing well and for communities that want to grow and flourish, they are vital.

EDITOR’S NOTE: National Newspaper Week (October 5-11, 2014) marks the 74th year of the Week, which observes the importance of newspapers to communities large and small.

PHOTO CUTLINE: David Burton reading the newspaper published in his hometown of Ash Grove, Mo.: The Commonwealth.


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