It is amazing to me that in this unprecedented age of information being available at our fingertips that so many people willfully remain ignorant of what is going on around them.
I know this column will largely be lost on those who need it most, because if you’re reading it you already see the value in a local newspaper (or other local news source, such as radio) and if you’re not, well, you’re not.
During Tuesday’s Napoleon council meeting, one of the members brought that a resident asked him if there was some way the city could let residents know what they were doing.
You see, they don’t read the newspaper or listen to the radio.
Which is what delivers the NEWS. I mean, it’s right in the title of the first one.
And this isn’t the first time I’ve heard such a statement made.
Back when Napoleon Area City Schools was planning its new facility project for an elementary school and to connect the junior high to the high school, they held numerous public meetings that were, quite frankly, well attended as far as those things go.
Also making every meeting was myself and someone from a “rival” newspaper located in Defiance that will remain nameless. We both wrote stories after each meeting updating the district residents on what was being discussed and proposed.
During one of the meetings, a woman, seated at my very table, stood up and asked the superintendent how the school would keep residents informed of what was going on because, yep, she didn’t read the newspaper or listen to the radio.
A few weeks ago, another city council member said she was asked about the progress of the city pool project. This, despite the fact this very newspaper ran a story just a couple of weeks before providing said update.
I’d also like to take this time to thank that council member for pointing out to that resident that we, in fact, had a story, as well as the others this week who said the same thing about city news being available.
Look, I know, newspapers make mistakes and sometimes we don’t all agree with what’s in them. But newspapers get it right far more often, and certainly more often than certain nosey social media sites who more often than not cause arguments, not discussion.
Oh, and the times they do get it right they’ve usually stolen one of our articles and posted a picture of it online without permission.
There may also be an edition or two which contains almost nothing of interest to some reader somewhere.
But there will be days where there will be several articles or photos of interest, and some of those may actually be vitally important to your life.
That’s what I really don’t understand. For a long time, when people said they didn’t read the newspaper or listen to the radio, I figured they just didn’t care what was going on around them.
Now I’ve come to the realization they may care, they just don’t want to be bothered with news in general until it directly affects them and their lives. Then they want to have it spoon fed to them.
I know there’s been an outcry is the last several years about the “mainstream media” having an agenda and pushing it, from whichever side. I’m not going to say there may not be some truth to that.
However, on the local level, staffs are just trying to deliver the news that has an impact on the lives of people we are friends, family and neighbors of in the community.
Sure, I have a reason to promote this newspaper, and certainly I would hope people would subscribe or purchase the Signal at the newsstand, but more than anything I always encourage people to educate themselves on what’s going on around them, even if it isn’t by reading our paper.
And I don’t make this pitch simply because this is my job. I grew up reading newspapers, from the Dayton Daily News to the Springfield News-Sun to the Urbana Daily Citizen.
Newspapers have a long history of keeping governments in check. Even the best ones need that now and then. It seems odd to me that a citizenry would want to rely on the government itself to tell them what is going on. Wouldn’t there be an inclination to only provide information that puts them in a positive light?
Local papers are also often the cheerleaders of the community, highlighting volunteer efforts, milestones reached and accomplishments achieved.
The Poynter Institute, a journalism organization, recently wrote that more than 50 local newsrooms across the country closed this year during the pandemic. About 1,800 have closed in the U.S. since 2004.
That obviously doesn’t matter to many.
But it should.