SOME PUBLISHERS WORRY about the future of their newspapers. Perhaps some have good cause. But we all know the doom-and-gloom reporting about the death of newspapers has been overstated, overwritten, over reported. Sometimes, we ourselves are guilty. It’s as if we hiked over to the local hardware store to buy a shovel…so we could dig our own graves!
Well, the folks at The Times and Democrat in Orangeburg, SC, have their hands on a keyboard, not a shovel.
And here’s what its editors think:
A NEW YEAR IS FULLY UNDER WAY. It will mark The Times and Democrat’s 131st anniversary as Orangeburg’s newspaper.
We point to longevity to make a point about ourselves: We plan to be around.
That’s right, a newspaper is telling its readers it plans to be around – this despite what some would have you believe. The naysayers point to long-term declines in the circulation of print products on top of competition for readers and revenue as reasons for the ultimate demise of newspapers.
We’ve made the point before about The Times and Democrat having many thousands more readers every day than ever, with our printed edition and the Internet broadening the way we provide information for many. We continue to distribute more than 12,000 printed editions of the newspaper every day, plus visitors to TheTandD.com number from 15,000-20,000 daily. More people than ever are reading about The T&D Region and its people.
We’ll bet, however, that plenty of people for whom The T&D and TheTandD.com are primary news sources would, at least initially, agree with a Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism finding in a recent study: Nearly seven in 10 respondents said the absence of their local newspaper would not have a big impact on their ability to keep up with information about their community.
That conclusion prompts questions. If the newspaper and its team of journalists working on local news are gone, who replaces them? Who is going to be out there digging for news about Orangeburg and surroundings? A medium for distributing the news is not the issue. From simple emails, to blogs, to social media, “news” can travel fast. But what kind of information are you getting? Rumor? Gossip? And just how far is anyone else going to be sure a story is followed, that complete information is conveyed over hours and days?
Without the newspaper, there would have to be, well, a newspaper.
Maybe that’s why the same Pew study found that, “The data show that newspapers play a much bigger role in people’s lives than many may realize. Newspapers (both the print and online versions, though primarily print) rank first or tie for first as the source people rely on most for 11 of the 16 different kinds of local information asked about – more topics than any other media source.”
According to Pew, newspapers rank as the top source for news on community events, crime, taxes, local government, arts and culture, social services, zoning and development. Newspapers tie with the Internet as the top source for news on housing, schools, and jobs, and tie with TV as the top source for local political news.
As David Carr of The New York Times wrote: “Forgive an old newspaper hack a moment of sentimentality, but it is somehow reassuring that a newspaper still has traction in an environment preoccupied by social media. It makes sense when you think about it: Newspapers convey a sense of place, of actually being there, that digital media can’t. When is the last time somebody handed you a website?”
The Times and Democrat will be here for your future and the future of Orangeburg, continuing to play the lead role in providing information to the people of our region. We’ll do it through printed newspapers, and we’ll do it through our website, plus social media and other avenues. People here and elsewhere are looking increasingly for credible reporting of the type that newspapers will continue to provide.