Small, independent newspapers are more important than ever…but don’t just take our word for it…
Here’s what a few other sources say about why small-town, locally-owned newspapers are vital – and thriving:
“Print is our lifeblood”
Despite dire predictions that print is dead, it’s still the backbone of many community dailies and weeklies nationwide. “Print is our lifeblood,” said Billy Coleburn, editor of the weekly Courier-Record in Blackstone, Va. The paper’s circulation is 6,100, more than twice the town’s population of 3,000. “For seven full-time employees, we rock ‘n’ roll down here,” he said.
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A FREE PRESS NEEDS YOU
In 1787, the year the Constitution was born, Thomas Jefferson famously wrote to a friend, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
That’s how he felt before he became president, anyway. Twenty years later, after enduring the oversight of the press from inside the White House, he was less sure of its value. “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper,” he wrote. “Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.”
Jefferson’s discomfort was, and remains, understandable. Reporting the news in an open society is an enterprise laced with conflict. His discomfort also illustrates the need for the right he helped enshrine. As the founders believed from their own experience, a well-informed public is best equipped to root out corruption and, over the long haul, promote liberty and justice.
“Public discussion is a political duty,” the Supreme Court said in 1964. That discussion must be “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,” and “may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”
In 2018, some of the most damaging attacks are coming from government officials. Criticizing the news media — for underplaying or overplaying stories, for getting something wrong — is entirely right. News reporters and editors are human, and make mistakes. Correcting them is core to our job. But insisting that truths you don’t like are “fake news” is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the “enemy of the people” is dangerous, period.
These attacks on the press are particularly threatening to journalists in nations with a less secure rule of law and to smaller publications in the United States, already buffeted by the industry’s economic crisis. And yet the journalists at those papers continue to do the hard work of asking questions and telling the stories that you otherwise wouldn’t hear. Consider The San Luis Obispo Tribune, which wrote about the death of a jail inmate who was restrained for 46 hours. The account forced the county to change how it treats mentally ill prisoners.
Answering a call last week from The Boston Globe, The Times is joining hundreds of newspapers, from large metro-area dailies to small local weeklies, to remind readers of the value of America’s free press. These editorials, some of which we’ve excerpted, together affirm a fundamental American institution.
If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.
Why are we doing it? Community. (Certainly not for the money!) Social media has its place, but a printed paper connects everyone, regardless of their internet access. Personal interactions are one of the great things about living in a small town. It was in the period immediately preceding the 2016 elections and neighbors, family and friends were divided as never before. There was a lack of trust, a lack of respect, and the term “Fake News” was heard daily. We wanted to do something to help alleviate the situation. We believe we’re all in this together.
-Pat & Mary
Yes, there is The Daily Star, The South Bend Tribune, The News Herald, The Journal Era and other good, “small” newspapers that cover local news. There is even the remnant of the Berrien County Record (that now mostly covers “legal announcements”).
But these are not exclusively for, about, and by the people of Buchanan.
We’re unique. And it is the intention of The Paper to remain independent and free, as we continue to grow.
If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.”