Tom’s Tomes: The truth about newspapers


This is National Newspaper Week (Oct. 2-8), the 76th anniversary of the celebration that emphasizes the impact of newspapers to communities large and small. This year’s theme is “Way to Know!” The aim is to applaud and underscore newspaper media’s role as the leading provider of news in print, online or in palms via mobile devices.

Since you’re reading this column in a newspaper, you probably already know much of what we want to say to everyone else—that newspapers are still relevant, necessary, and very, very needed by society—perhaps more now than ever before. The Utah Press Association and newspapers throughout the state are sharing a similar message—that newspapers are the “Way to Know” what’s truly going on. We look at issues in depth, report the facts without personal agendas, and then let our readers decide for themselves what those stories mean. Those news stories you read online or on your hand-held device—yeah, they come from newspaper reporters and editors who do this for a living every day. Google doesn’t have a newsroom, nor does Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.

We’ve heard for some time that newspapers are dying, going the way of the dinosaurs. But this column, shared by UPA to newspapers and penned by David Chavern, CEO of News Media Alliance, sends a powerful message.

Debunking the ‘newspapers are dying’ idea

By DAVID CHAVERN

Imagine waking up in a world without newspapers. You say, I haven’t gotten a newspaper in years. But I’m not talking about just the paper delivered by carriers or the postal service. I’m talking about the news online, the links on social media, the email newsletter, the source cited in the television broadcast and the push notification on your phone. The word newspaper no longer reflects the media industry encompassed by the word.

It’s time to debunk the idea Newspapers Are Dying.

The newspaper business has changed a lot. But so what? Lots of industries go through ups-and-downs as technologies and customer preferences change. Name an industry: cars, airlines, energy, retail, accounting, transportation, construction, and the underlying economic drivers look a lot different than they did in the 1980s. That doesn’t mean they are “dead” businesses. People want and need the underlying products and services and the industries adapt to be successful in the new world.

We are living in the age of information. According to a University of Southern California study, Americans are absorbing five times more information a day than in 1986. And as the demand for quality news grows, storytelling evolves. I think that we have only just begun to explore the incredible upside of new tools in telling compelling news stories. What if we could not only tell people about Syria but also put them there (virtually) to experience some aspects for themselves?

All evidence shows that people of all ages want and consume more news than ever. We need to focus on new ways to address the needs of audience. Legacy newspapers are considered trusted sources of information; we must continue to keep that trust as we experiment in the digital age. Live streaming, social media and video are just tools for better stories as journalists fight to keep readers in the know.

This week, we celebrate the 76th National Newspaper Week, where we celebrate newspapers as the “Way to Know.” It is a time to be grateful for the news carriers that trudge through the streets hours before you’ve had your first cup of coffee to deliver you the news. We take this week to realize that what we know comes from hardworking editors and journalists, who decide what information to put in front of us each day. We celebrate that we can count on them to go into a tragedy and bring us back hope. They make politics human and science easy to read.

I don’t want to imagine a world without newspapers–do you?

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