Most everyone I talk to agrees with me (at least to my face) about the importance of having a local newspaper, yet we’re often guilty of systematically destroying the very thing we say has value to our towns. I’m not talking about the mainstream media entities recently threatened by a major lobbyist group in an advertisement (if you want details you have to come to the office and take a test), I’m talking about the local, community paper… many of which have shuttered. To be fair, I’m painfully well-acquainted with the ways a newspaper can destroy itself from the inside out… lousy content, unfair reporting, poor customer service, late delivery, etc. This is about the things we all do (I’m guilty, too) that are killing local papers.
1. Be too cheap to pay for your news.
Oddly, in an economy where we cheerfully pay $4 for a cup of coffee and buy air—yes, air, for future generations reading this via hologram—at the gas station, we expect news coverage to arrive in our homes for free. Subscriptions, online and in print, are what keeps the regular flow of real news (not the cheesy online stuff paid for by PACs, Russian trolls and conspiracy theorists) coming to you.
2. Advertise everywhere else.
We’re in constant competition for your ad dollars with fancy advertising agencies from out of town who swoop through with marketing plans that promise you the world, other publications, and sometimes our own chambers of commerce. Your advertising dollars, spent in the local paper, support the freedom of the press. Newspaper advertising is statistically one of the most effective and affordable advertising methods out there. Think about this: people who pay for their news aren’t so likely to throw it in the trash on the way out of the post office, which means your ad actually makes it to their home.
3. Rely solely on the internet for information and commerce.
Believe it or not, everyone is not on the internet. (I know, shocker to all of you reading the print edition). Also, everything on the internet is not true. Abraham Lincoln said so, according to a popular meme. Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat is not a substitute for news coverage, unless you’re a sheeple and want the “news” Facebook’s money-making algorithms think will earn the most revenue. There. I said it. Stop treating social media like a legitimate news source… it’s not. And plus, the Russians have invaded both venues, and you don’t want to be on the wrong team in the next Bond movie.
4. Trust the government to tell you what you need to know.
The relationship between the press and government tends to be strained for a reason, and that’s OK. We print things the government would rather keep to themselves. Public notices are a perfect example. When you support your local paper, you support the freedom of information and the freedom of the press to hold government accountable for their actions, particularly their actions with your tax dollars. On that note, please call Rep. Bob Rankin at 303-866-2949 and urge him to vote no on SB 18-156, which, to my dismay, passed the state senate and has been sent to a house committee.
5. Remain ignorant of local issues.
Some folks simply don’t care what’s going on at town council, or in their taxing districts. Those are people who have never paid enough attention to their tax bill. They’re also the people who complain the loudest when those in authority make decisions they don’t like, but by then it’s often too late to change anything. By reading the newspaper, and, again, those pesky public notices, you’ll find out all kinds of interesting things going on while there’s time to speak up and make a difference.
I realize I’m “preaching to the choir” for the most part here, but maybe some of our faithful subscribers and readers who do understand the importance of having a local newspaper can use this information to gently nudge friends and family members to follow your example.