EDITORIAL: Newspapers aren't dying. Supporters are.
I was at the gym last night taking a breather between upper body lifts when I decided to scroll through Facebook.
Oftentimes, my social media pages are full of sports talk or daily memes. Nothing too serious or eye-catching.
However, while I was taking a break, I scrolled onto a shared editorial cartoon that a former boss recently posted.
It was of two regular folks standing on a sidewalk staring at their phones.
A quote bubble above the woman at left said “The problem is I can’t tell the fake news from the REAL NEWS!”
The gentleman standing next to her replied, “Yeah, there’s got to be a better way … ”
Seems simple enough, right?
But what you see as you pan your eyes farther right is a newspaper stand.
The fact is that REAL NEWS is slapping folks in the face, yet they want to believe social media more often.
People roaming the Earth today give more merit to a service that costs nothing and is a playing field for posting literally anything, truth or lies, instead of spending the $.50 it costs to get the REAL NEWS. No matter what is posted, there are little to no consequences.
I took the helm of The Saline Courier seven months ago after five years of serving the people of this great county in other areas of the editorial department.
I have heard almost every excuse for why people choose not to support or subscribe.
“You lean too far left.”
“You must be a Trump supporter.”
“Your opinions on the OPINION PAGE offend me.”
“I can’t afford (less than) $100 a year.”
The list goes on.
Whatever the case may be, the fact is that supporting your local newspaper should be common knowledge. We are here for the people of this county.
Since President Donald Trump took his oath in January, much of what has been written about him has been classified as “fake news” by his team, even with clear facts to support the reporting. In many cases, video or audio or both have been used to prove what the publication is reporting is in fact the TRUTH.
Then the social media crisis kicked in. False site after false site after false site began to surface, causing the uneducated viewers and readers to dive neck-deep into something that is as fake as ocean-front property in Arizona.
Since when did we start relying on some John Doe with a computer in his mother’s basement for our news?
Why are we not supporting the local news source that has been around for nearly 150 years?
No, we are not going to write stories that every single reader will agree with. That is not how the world rotates.
But we are going to tell the truth.
To say that a publication is printing lies or calling it “fake news” because you simply do not agree with the facts really strikes a chord with me.
I absolutely understand when readers become angry about a recent story. That happens on a daily basis across the nation. It is a natural reaction, especially when the story’s subject is the one calling the office.
The one thing I always ask after the caller finally calms down is “What was factually wrong?”
Never have I received an answer that wasn’t either attempting to change the subject or a fumbled response.
Often I get the “Well, all of it,” but there are no provided facts that our story was indeed false in any way. Also, an occasional hang-up follows.
I stress to my readers and callers that all of our reporting is done with extreme care and caution. We do not want to be wrong in any instance.
Are we fed wrong information at times?
Do we make sure to take the time to check out all angles?
Are we going to make mistakes?
Same answer, but know it was not in a deliberate manner.
There is another statement that has been going around the world for many years and that is “newspapers are dying across America.”
That, my friends, is fake news.
Newspapers, especially local publications like us, are not going anywhere.
Are we making 1970s and '80s cash?
But are we still printing a daily newspaper packed with local content for the readers of Saline County to enjoy and be informed about instead of relying on Facebook or other blog-type outlets?
You'd better believe it.
I often hear folks say that no one reads the newspaper anymore. Or things like “newspapers are for old people.”
To those that believe that, I invite them to take a walk through our business. My editorial staff is probably among the youngest in the state. Aside from my senior editor Lynda Hollenbeck, a near 50-year veteran of the paper, my staff averages about 28 years old.
Last I checked, that was far from old.
We strive very hard to bring the communities of this county what they want. Both in a truthful and factual light, but also by focusing on the local content.
If you are wanting national news from us on the front page ahead of local content, then you are in the wrong place. We are here for Saline County. You should be proud of that.
This publication is not five or six folks behind a desk slapping a keyboard. We print what is equivalent to a 300,000-to-600,000-word research paper every single day of the year.
I made it a point when I took this job to make this paper great again and I firmly believe we are heading in the right direction.
But please know that newspapers aren’t dying— the supporters are.
Young people need to be informed as much as our older generations. Reading a daily paper is not an "old thing"; it is a human thing. Stop relying on a friend's shared Facebook post for your news and get out and get the REAL NEWS yourself.
We are doing our part to make sure Saline County gets what it deserves.