Losing newspapers are a big deal. This is why.

Tyler Anderson

Back in 1963, Bob Dylan reflected on the signs of the times in his song “The Times They Are A-Changin.’” Influenced by Irish and Scottish ballads, this anthem of change is universal and everlasting.

Its message, while written in nearly 60 years ago, is clear: Change is constant, and the times are always changing.

Over the course of the last 120 years, the way we receive information has evolved – from newspapers to radio, from television to the Internet and social media. The first medium mentioned is as old as the origins of the United States itself.

Within the First Amendment of the Constitution, right alongside the freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble is the “freedom of the press.” It is a sacred promise granted to the people from the Founding Fathers to protect us from government encroachment.

Throughout the years, newspapers have evolved from pamphlets of partisanship to the torchbearer of modern journalism. A style of writing developed from its numerous papers, to save ink and to entice readership into its content.

While people are familiar with larger publications and cite these newspapers often, there is one facet of the industry that is relatively unspoken for. That is, unless, you live in the same community as the small publication.

Change is constant, yes, but newspapers have consistently been around to cover those changes. Currently, there is a contemporary crisis regarding hometown journalism.

It’s evident that small newspapers are facing oblivion everyday. The mission of many offices, which employ one or two writers, a marketing consultant and an office manager, is to simply keep the lights on.

Recently, three newspapers with long and illustrious histories in Iowa (Centerville, Knoxville and Pella) have either shuttered for good or merged with another publication.

Sure, it’s easier to scroll through social media apps, such as Facebook and Twitter. Despite both Facebook and Twitter’s aim to fact check stories through algorithms, there nothing better than resorting to the hometown paper for news, updates and happenings from around the community.

It’s our connection to the community that separates us from the noise and misinformation that’s out there. We have the ability to localize important information, and meet with people within our communities for their take on matters. Furthermore, great stories are generated from merely visiting with community members and getting to know your neighbors.

Advertising wise, a Facebook presence is nice, but it doesn’t quite reach your neighbor’s mailbox or stand at the convenience store like the newspaper can. You can’t scroll past a newspaper page, which has a long shelf life, like you can a Facebook post, which can be bypassed in mere seconds.

There’s a good reason why we have house ads that read, “your customer just ordered online” and “your customer went to the next town to buy.”

What would happen if the local newspaper closes its doors? There are several things, and it’s all to the detriment of the community.

First and most evident, is there are no legals or coverage of municipalities, counties or school boards. Without the legals, you are unable to keep track of what road that the county board of supervisors has closed for construction, a new ordinance that the city council has passed or a new project that the school district is currently embarking upon.

On that subject, don’t expect anyone to be present when covering a city council, board of supervisors or school board meeting. The only time where a major news source comes into town is if a community is in a proverbial crisis mode, or when someone gets into major trouble.

Without legals and probates or municipal and county coverage, taxes may be raised without an awareness of what happened. We’re here to ask those questions and get those answers for you.

Second, not every business has an online presence. Sure enough, there is a convenience to buying from Amazon or other large websites, but places such as the local hardware or auto parts stores, small town eateries and the “mom and pop shops” cannot afford to purchase or maintain fancy websites with the perks of online ordering and checkout.

Instead, they turn to their local newspapers, where they know that they won’t be bypassed with a simple swipe, a tap on a screen or a click on a mouse.

Third, is who would be there for coverage of the high school athletics or fine arts? What separates the hometown papers from the major media outlets is the ability to capture the kid who only comes out onto the field or court for one play or for one quarter. The local publication is usually there along the road to a championship, but will also be there when tough times occur.

Without the hometown paper, another part of the community fades into history. Losing your hometown publication is no different than losing the local grocery store, pharmacy and restaurant. However, when the paper goes away, you lose an institution and the best way for people to be properly informed.

How can you keep the hometown newspaper from closing? Easy, support local journalism.

How can you support local journalism? There are two simple ways to keep the paper going for your children and grandchildren to enjoy.

You can do this by buying a subscription, which is the equivalent of dining out or going out to see the latest movie at a ritzy movie house. We’re not saying that going to your favorite restaurant or enjoying the latest flick is a cardinal sin, but a newspaper houses a gift that keeps on giving: information.

You can do this by purchasing an ad in the newspaper to promote your business. It not only establishes rapport, but also opens the door to partake in future projects such as a county visitors’ guide or a special section.

Just as a newspaper can ask for its community for help, the newspaper must also adapt with the times by becoming a daily news source by way of new media via a website and social media. Newspapers can survive, but they can’t do it without you.

With all of this said, it’s best to leave with one bold statement. Information is free, but good information isn’t.


Ogden Reporter

Ogden Reporter
205 Walnut Street
Ogden, IA 50212-2004

News: news@madridregister.com
Sales: sales@ogdenreporter.com

Mid-America Publishing

This newspaper is part of the Mid-America Publishing Family. Please visit www.midampublishing.com for more information.