Why community newspapers matter

DO YOU EVER GET THE FEELING that what you’re doing at a small newspaper doesn’t matter for much? That you can’t change the world—or bring meaning to people’s lives—as a staffer at The Bedford Falls Sentinel…or wherever?

Get rid of that feeling—because what you do is important and what you do does matter to your readers and your community. The future of metro and regional newspapers may be in doubt. But not community newspapers.

Here’s an article that explains why.

Once you’ve read it, post it for everyone at your newspaper to see. Better yet, copy it and distribute it. And make it required reading.

It’s really that important…because what you do is really that important.

Send in your comments…let us know what you think. Best commentary on this wins a free copy of both of Ed’s books!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Why community newspapers matter

  1. I needed this on a crazy Monday morning – thanks, Ed! And, I have not read the “Emu” book, but will have to get a copy. Sometimes we become apathetic wondering if anyone is out there who cares about the news as much as we do. But we all know that the TV, Radio and Daily are not going to cover the prize-winning sweet potato alongside the auto accident like we do. The community newspaper is still viable and relevant, we just need a reminder now and then that people read the newspaper. Sometimes that reminder comes in the form of a mom at the football game or… a local gardener and his very large sweet potato.

  2. A wise man once said that weekly newspaper journalists are really daily journalists; our print product just comes out once a week. With the growth of the Internet and social media, weekly newspapers now have the unique ability to not only hang with the “big boys,” but also to break news consistently. Our ability to break news, however, still doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility to our readers. While many big city dailies seem to cover news “because they think someone will be interested in it,” community journalists cover news we KNOW our readers will be interested in it. We listen to our readers and our news product reflects what they’re saying. As a weekly community journalist, I’ve covered everything from the Confederate battle flag, a story with statewide implications, to a farmer’s strangely shaped pumpkin. The number one compliment we hear from our readers is that our newspaper is about them. That’s probably the secret ingredient to community journalism. It’s always about them, never about us.

  3. The first week of my first job as editor of a small weekly newspaper in Western Pennsylvania, the biggest thrill I got was stopping by the grocery store, shortly after the paper was delivered, and watching everyone who passed, it seemed, pick up a copy. At lunch that day, I watched a man sit and read the paper from cover to cover–every single word, even deep into the 50-inch school board story I had written. That was when I fell in love with community journalism.

    There are gaudier places to work, publications with exponentially more readership, and nameplates where your byline will make you rich and famous. But there is no place in journalism–nowhere–where you will have a more direct impact on your readers, and your community. Everything a community newspaper does, matters.

  4. “Comm”unity Journalism — What a perfect name!
    Consider those first four letters.
    1. “Comm”unication — We get the word out about public affairs that affect readers’ children, pocketbooks and everyday lives; share fun stories about the everyday heroes among them; tell of births, deaths, deals with local advertisers, sports scores, upcoming events; and opine about the matters of the day, less to change minds than to open them to caring about the world around them.
    2. “Comm”itment — We are committed to assuring that our levels of government are open and transparent, as provided for by our laws and yes, by our consciences.
    3. ”Comm”unity — Absent a “comm”on knowledge base, our communities would become fragmented, disjointed and directionless.

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