Celebrating National Newspaper Week Oct. 7-14
By James Denton,
Editor of The Independent Voice of Fairfield County
In communities and towns and small cities all across South Carolina, in the sometimes out of the way places that increasingly divergent populations call home – in the place where you grew up, or where your grandparents, perhaps, once tilled the soil on the family farm – the single common denominator binding these individual places together is the local community newspaper.
It is the calcium in the very bones of any given community, the support network upon which ‘home’ is founded. It is the ‘We’ in the ‘Us,’ and no community should be without one.
The larger newspapers can bring you state-wide, national and international news, and the big boys here in South Carolina do that with the best of them. But when your local town council holds a work session, your local school board fires a superintendent, there’s a fire on Main Street or a string of copper thefts out on the bypass, the person on the front lines is invariably the reporter from your local community newspaper.
Your community newspaper serves as the platform through which citizens can engage in a healthy dialogue about the local issues that affect their everyday lives, through guest editorials or letters to the editor. It is the place where new members of the community are welcomed through birth announcements, and where we bid farewell to our citizens in the local obituaries. It’s where you will find out who married the proverbial “girl next door,” who is celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary and who graduated from that fancy college up North. It is the community in ink, the permanent record that documents the historical ups and downs, and it is the watchdog through which every citizen may keep an eye on their local government.
It is no secret that newspapers large and small have struggled to catch up with the ever-expanding Internet and the advent of social media, but catch up they have.
The newspaper industry has embraced this new frontier, utilizing it to enhance and broaden their coverage so that now, even small weeklies can, through the Web and social media outlets, act not only as daily, but hourly and minute-by-minute news outlets. And if the Internet and social media have taught us anything, it is that in an age where anyone can say anything and, with the push of a button, have it broadcast all over the world, a trusted, trained, responsible and reliable local news source is more valuable than ever before.
Remember that this week as you tuck this newspaper underneath your arm and go about your daily business, and remember it for the days and weeks to come. Remember it as you read the local high school football scores, the engagement announcement and the obituaries.
And remember this: Your small-town newspaper is not just a window onto your community, but a doorway into it.