IBJOpinion

KATTERJOHN: Newspapers still deliver - for YOU

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The Hoosier State Press Association, a trade group representing 175 paid-circulation Hoosier newspapers, including IBJ, has launched a campaign designed to remind the public of the important role newspapers play in our democracy.

So this week, I’m ceding my space to David Stamps, executive director of the HSPA and business neighbor (the association is headquartered on the third floor of our building).



OK. Show-of-hands time. How many of you reading this column have ever attended your city council or town board meeting? Hmmm, I see a few hands waving.

How about during the month of September? Not many hands left aloft.

How about every city council or town board meeting the last year? Last five years? Last 10?

Don’t see any hands up now.

Question: Do you know who has attended all these meetings?

Answer: Reporters from newspapers.

Like a lot of good things about this country—things like expecting clean water to come out of your tap when you open it, or that the police or fire department phone will be answered when you call—newspapers and the job they do on behalf of the public get taken for granted.

But some people think that might be changing. They’re worried that newspapers are becoming more a part of the past than the future.

Yes, newspapers, often called collectively, The Press—despite being the only profession specifically protected by the U.S. Constitution—are encountering difficulties these days not imagined only a few years ago.

Oct. 4-10 was National Newspaper Week.

This observance used to be more of a salute to the role newspapers play in keeping the public informed, but this year has been given new immediacy as we read of venerable newspapers closing or going to Web-only publication, of household-name newspapers like the Chicago Tribune filing bankruptcy, of the two major newspapers in Detroit eliminating home delivery four days a week.

Now that’s pretty grim news, and there’s more of it.

But it’s news that gives a distorted picture of the newspaper industry.

Most newspapers in Indiana, while suffering through the same economic doldrums that nearly all businesses are experiencing, are still hard at it: covering city council and town board meetings; attending school board meetings; reporting from the police and sheriff’s stations; covering high school sports; printing honor rolls; tromping around the county fair grounds to count blue ribbons; and printing obituaries, birth and engagement announcements, and 50th anniversary wedding stories.

And lots, lots, lots more. (Publisher’s note: like covering the central Indiana business community, Dave.)

Think what your town would be like without a newspaper. We could all just blog ourselves to death, but about what? Newspapers, we like to say, write the first draft of history; bloggers, Googlers and the other news “aggregators” feed off that.

So, despite all the changes in how we can receive news and information these days, we still need newspapers.

And, Newspapers Still Deliver.

That’s the theme of a campaign Indiana newspapers began promoting last week.

And, although we don’t need a National Newspaper Week to kick off such a campaign, this is as good a time as any to remind you, our readers, of how important newspapers are to society collectively and this community specifically.

Thanks for reading this newspaper.

Thanks for patronizing advertisers choosing this newspaper to run their ads.

Thanks for caring that an important part of our democracy—that part guaranteed by the First Amendment—remains a part of the future.

Yes, newspapers still deliver—for you.•

__________

Katterjohn is publisher of IBJ. To comment on this column, send e-mail to ckatterjohn@ibj.com. David Stamps’ e-mail address is dstamps@hspa.com. <

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