Fred loves reading newspapers.
He especially enjoys the morning paper. He pours his cup of coffee; then opens, caresses, and fingers every page as he reads. But he too notices that each edition is shrinking in size and content.
Because of the electronic media supplying so much of our information; because of the years that have gone by with our youth growing up with such sources and outlets as Tweet, Twitter, Facebook, e mail, blogs, and so on…
The newspaper business has shrunk. And these papers are struggling for survival.
It’s like the chicken and the egg. Which came first, the gradual paring down of the newspaper business, or the general apathy from reading a newspaper at all? And granted, some of these papers have cut their own throats with their “made up” news and gossip.
Here are some facts.
Newspapers everywhere are suffering, both in readership and subscribership. The Colorado Mountain News is no longer. Neither is the Tampa Tribune, the Baltimore Examiner, The Kentucky Post. The Wichita Eagle is the size of the old Hutchinson News. The Hutch News is the size of the ….and so on. The internet calls this trend the newspaper “death watch.”
The under 45 crowd hardly ever reads a newspaper. This group doesn’t have the “habit.”
The advertisers, therefore, are seeking new sources. They understand that the “newspaper” venue is king of the mountain no more. The advertisers are aiming for the spenders; the consumers; the buyers. And those people are under 50 years of age.
So the advertisers have diversified. They use the internet. They use radio and television. They hawk their wares any way they can. Some of their ads are very offensive. But they are desperate too. And the newspapers are losing revenue.
So, what do the papers do?
They shrink their staff. Most cannot employ more than one or two reporters. Reporters are no longer the ones who go search out the news. A newspaper may only employ one reporter at the most, and that person might use the internet as well.
So, how can a small-town paper be relevant to the population it serves?
And how can a small town paper grow and be a viable part of the community?
After all, the town newspaper does provide a life support system to a town. It relates to the community what is important in that community.
First of all, the local paper must seek out and publish news and details that the area readers cannot find anywhere else. That paper must reflect the spirit and the soul of the area.
The paper should tell us what is happening in the schools, at the local city council. It should give us a glimpse into the lives and activities of the people with whom we live; clubs, socials, crimes, accidents, new businesses, deaths, births.
I know you get my point.
Here is the big question.
Are we willing to do what we need to do to make these publications survive in our towns?
We must not think that the little newspaper with few employees is going to know sovereignly what is happening in the county. We need to share the responsibility to let them know what is happening, therefore.
Forget the “old ways’ that the newspapers were run. That era is over. That ship has sailed. Newspapers are in a pinch .I suggest the responsibility be shifted to people in the communities to be in charge of calling the paper or sending the paper articles or notices about their specific clubs, needs, organizations.. The different organizations might appoint a person in charge of this duty.
Recently there was a benefit dinner at a local ballgame. Few came because no one knew about it.
The newspaper did not know about it. No one called them. But they caught abuse for not telling about it.
If we want to save a suffering media, we need to take the responsibility to let them know what is happening or at least appoint a chairperson to do this little job. Some newspapers are very successful because they are operating by this formula.
So, let’s all vow to help out here. We are all good at complaining. But, it’s not doing much good, is it?
All hands on deck!
We can do better.
“A Woman’s View” is Judi Tabler’s reflection of her experiences and events. She is a wife, mother, writer, teacher, grandmother, and even a great grandmother. Contact Annie at pprarieannie@gmailcom