Archived Story

Newspapers have changed; importance has not

Published 9:20am Thursday, July 10, 2014

When Gov. Rick Snyder recently declared July was Community Paper Month in Michigan, he chose a powerful quote from a revered speaker to help make his point.

“‘Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it’ (Thomas Jefferson),” Snyder’s proclamation opened with, going on to point out the tremendous impact newspapers like those produced by Leader Publications have on the community.

“Whereas, the publishing industry of community papers and newspapers, made up of both small and large organizations, is an important element in local communities throughout this nation. Collectively, these publications disseminate valuable information to more than 50 million homes each week,” the proclamation stated. “These hometown publications are the original and enduring hyper-local medium, carrying the torch of democracy as the town crier, fixed in print and shared with neighbors many of them free of charge.”

This is a message that, hopefully, will get told loudly across the state all month long. Community Papers of Michigan (CPM), the trade association based in East Lansing that had represented freely distributed community newspapers and shopping guides for nearly 75 years, is doing its part.

CPM’s member publications range in size from 3,000 weekly circulation to more than 600,000. The markets covered range from Greater Detroit to Traverse City, Niles to Manistique, Grand Rapids to The Thumb and most communities in between. More than 2.1 million households receive a community publication in their mailbox or at their doors each and every week.

“Community publications deserve month-long recognition as they play a vital role in the lives of over 3 million weekly readers in Michigan alone. These publications are the conduit between residents and local retail, service and professional businesses and local government,” CPM executive director Jack Guza stated in a prepared release. “Now more than ever, large national retailers have taken notice that these freely distributed publications afford a tremendous value with their vast readership and are requesting their pre-printed ads to be featured in these publications! Community newspapers deliver the news that matters the most to you — where you live, work and worship and is typically not found elsewhere. They announce engagements, the birth of your children, celebrate sports and academic achievements, graduations, the loss of your loved ones and so much more.”

Guza went on to emphasize how community publications are deeply vested in the communities they serve.

“They own or lease buildings, hire full and part time staff members as well as contract independent workers, all of which strengthen the communities they serve by providing stable jobs. Community publications are also consumers and spend thousands of dollars weekly on products and services required to compose, write, edit, print and distribute their publications,” he stated. “Employees of these publications know that their success lies in the success of the communities they serve, which is why so many are involved with civic groups and charitable events in their areas.”

This is the song others and I have been singing for years. It is one story — joining lots of others — where the national media continues to miss the “big picture.”

Community newspapers like ours will continue to focus on the “little ones.”

 

Michael Caldwell is the publisher of Leader Publications LLC. He can be reached at (269) 687-7700 or by email at mike.caldwell@leaderpub.com.

 

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