Happy National Newspaper Week!

Published 9:52 am Thursday, October 1, 2015

Next week, when companies all across the United States celebrate the 75th annual National Newspaper Week, they will follow a simple but popular theme: The Power of the Press.

There is no disputing that news media as a whole has a tremendous impact on the American society. Newspapers serve a plethora of purposes — from recording public notices to offering checks and balances for political officials to showcase our local communities.

Often when we hear the term, “power of the press,” we think of journalists like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who uncovered the Nixon scandal in The Washington Post, or hard-hitting interviews by Walter Cronkite. Of course those journalists were powerful and made a tremendous impact, but I would argue that local newspapers like the one you hold in your hands (or are viewing on your computer) have an equally salient purpose in the communities they serve.

While journalists employed by your local newspaper may not regularly take to task federal issues or even statewide politicians, newspapers provide services that are not commonly found elsewhere.

Newspapers are the rough drafts of history books. They offer the clippings for your scrapbook. Newspapers provide a platform for readers to publish their concerns. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received phone calls from readers asking questions about some historic event in our community or another, and have found the answer by browsing through our bound volumes.

Through newspapers, editorial staffs across the entire country facilitate conversation, offer information and help connect people to each other.

Local businesses grow through advertising in community newspapers, and organizations of all shapes and sizes are able to get the word out on various events by submitting content to newspapers.

Large newspapers like The New York Times and USA Today offer all you need to know about national and international happenings, but where else can you find out what is going on right in your backyard than in your local newspaper? Barring unusual anomalies that would draw national attention, cities like Niles, Dowagiac, Cassopolis and Edwardsburg may never make headlines in these large papers, and that’s why community journalism is so important.

No matter how much we hear that newspapers are a dying breed and see the concerned looks on our families’ faces when we announce our chosen profession, the fact of the matter is, because of the long list of unique amenities offered in our publications, we’re not going anywhere any time soon.

The proof is in the pudding. A 2013 study by Customized Newspaper Advertising reports that 71 percent of adults read newspapers in print or digitally. More than 5 million Michigan adults read newspapers. Readers of varying levels of education, income, age and gender subscribe to a newspaper.

The same year, the majority of Michigan residents answering a CNA survey said newspapers and newspaper websites are the most useful source of information over direct mail, TV, radio and other websites.

Of course, if you are reading this, I am likely preaching to the choir. Without readers who recognize the power of the press and all of the other services provided in our publications, we would not have been able to celebrate 75 years of National Newspaper Week. While this a certainly a week for newspaper employees to revel in, our readers deserve to join in the celebration.

As time passes and other types of media become more prevalent, we appreciate the continued support of the people who value our products.

With numbers like these and readers like you, I think I can speak for my generation and the next several to follow when I say we look forward to another 75 years of celebrating newspapers.


Ambrosia Neldon is the managing editor at Leader Publications. She can be reached by phone at (269) 687-7713, or by email at ambrosia.neldon@leaderpub.com.