OFF THE CUFF

Perhaps you didn’t notice that National Newspaper Week came and went again in early October.

I figure there’s a good chance you were distracted by numerous 2020-ish things, or were preoccupied with celebrating other national weeks that occupied the same time period.

Perhaps you were busy after being inspired to clear potential “fuel” away from your wooden house on your forested lot in recognition of National Fire Prevention Week. Or maybe you were buying fresh batteries at Walmart as your contribution to National Hearing Aid Awareness Week.

Then again, maybe you were enjoying National Pet Peeve Week and were making sure people doing things you find annoying knew about it.  

Or maybe you were involved in some other activity (or non-activity) as part of one of the many other national weeks that no doubt were also occurring.

But Oct. 4-10 was indeed National Newspaper Week. And as usual, the “big event” went by without much (if any) fanfare.

Not that I was disappointed at the fact I didn’t receive any flowers or gift certificates during the festive period, but I did spend a few moments reflecting on how newspapers are one of the things Americans take for granted in our technology-packed, material-filled lives. They’re just kind of there, like running water, electricity and trash pickup service.

And newspapers have been around for a long while; the first record of one can be traced to the Roman Empire (in 59 B.C. of all things). And FYI, the first newspaper in America existed for a few days in 1690 before those mean ruling Brits shut it down, and a weekly publication that began in 1760 in Connecticut is still going.

But in a way, I’m glad newspapers are taken for granted. That shows how engrained they are in society and most certainly is a sign of something integral to the life of the average too-busy-to-care American.

Some people like to say these days that print is “dead” or “dying.” Well, maybe the classified sections are shrinking because of craigslist and other online marketing avenues, and maybe some of the larger, big-city publications are feeling a pinch from online news sources.

But it’s pretty obvious that in places like Houston, Mo., and other rural communities, local newspapers are still a viable entity on several levels. Yep, while the “real truth” is “shared” via social media on a far-too-regular basis, the rural newspaper business continues to be an important source of local knowledge and enlightenment.

But then, where else can you possibly find out – in one package – who stole a sandwich from Walmart, who won a ribbon at the regional math competition, and what caused that loud noise outside McDonald’s the other night?

And during an election period, how could most people find out anything about the guys or gals they’ve never heard of before who are running for public office? The fact is, they couldn’t, but thanks to a newspaper printing some answers, opinions and general information about the candidates, at least people have some form of clue about the folks who are on the ballot.

Really, the local newspaper allows a perspective of a community that can’t be found anywhere else. It conveys the nuts and bolts about all kinds of circumstances (good and bad), reports what people said about problems, solutions, failures, achievements and of course, other people. And while doing so, it conveys (through both printed word and photos) the community’s very atmosphere while simultaneously painting a picture of its personality.

I find a special sort of beauty in that. I know I’m a tad biased, but I really do.

The bottom line is, because of the unique experience local newspapers offer, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a good while before they completely go the way of the dinosaurs. Of course, you’ll probably agree (to at least some extent) because you’re reading this.

Let me just say on behalf of all of us at in the print news industry that we’re glad to be here for you and we hope we will be for a long time to come.

FACT CHECK See inaccurate information in this story? Tell us here.

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