On Sunday I celebrated my 47th birthday, which also happened to be the beginning of National Newspaper Week. I have been a proud member of the newspaper industry since my parents purchased the Black Voice News weekly newspaper in 1980, eight years after it was founded by students at the University of California, Riverside. Yes, I have had ink stained fingers for almost 35 years.
As a second-generation publisher, I inherited a trusted weekly newspaper whose success is measured by our ability to make a difference not just a dollar. Our purpose has always been to advocate for the voiceless…the disenfranchised…the underserved.
“Newspapers have a tremendous role in small and large communities across this country. We hold elected officials accountable so they truly represent the best interests of our communities. We offer insight on political races and we seek advice from local experts who can share experience with our readers. We report on and lead discussions that seek to improve our schools and we share stories of selfless leaders who otherwise go unnoticed,” Keith Anderson, director of news, ECM Publishers in Minnesota said in an editorial marking the week of celebration.
In its annual survey on community newspapers, the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri School of Journalism found that the majority of local readers continued to regard community newspapers as highly valuable and important sources of information about their communities:
92% of readers thought local newspapers were informative.
83% agreed that they and their families relied on the newspapers for local news and information.
84% of readers (and their families) would look forward to reading the newspapers.
69% thought the newspapers provided valuable local shopping and advertising information.
75% agreed that local newspapers entertained them.
Nearly half of readers (46 percent) used the newspapers for their political and voting decisions.
The survey showed that 47 percent of online users would choose a newspaper’s website as their favored source of information for local news.
The majority of respondents said they trust their local newspaper over other media sources.
While news headlines ironically continue to question the longevity of the newspaper industry, savvy investors like Warren Buffett continue to invest in them because they continue to serve a vital role in our communities.
I end this rave on National Newspaper Week with the wise words of the “Sage of Omaha” taken from his annual shareholder letter last year explaining why he paid $344 million for 28 newspapers in 2012:
“Newspapers continue to reign supreme, however, in the delivery of local news….Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable to a significant portion of its residents.”
Thank you for reading and continuing to support your community newspaper.