Your newspaper will be there for you.
A simple statement, but let’s break it down a bit.
Your newspaper … That’s right, all yours, assembled just for you, tailored to where you live, emphasizing the things that affect you, keeping track of the people and players in your community. Your newspaper is put together by people in a newsroom that was built for you, where people work to supply information that matters to you, from the details of that crash you passed by on Tuesday to biographies of the candidates for your school board to notices of what’s on sale at your local supermarket.
…Will be there for you. Be where? On your porch, in your mail, at your convenience store and, yeah, sometimes in your bushes. But also at your city hall, inside your local police department, attending your city council meeting, watching your elections. It will be where you can’t, paying attention, keeping watch, asking questions, making the record public.
And you can take it wherever you’re going without worrying about battery life or Wi-Fi connections.
Some say newspapers are dying, that people get their news today from the Internet, TV and radio. But where do the Internet, TV and radio get their news? From the newsrooms of America’s newspapers, large and small, which still encompass the nation’s largest newsgathering force.
Other information providers may add opinion, pictures or sound, but most of the time, the facts begin in the newsrooms of newspapers, where journalists are there for you, cultivating sources, combing through records, asking tough questions.
A few generations back, TV and radio were supposed to be the death of newspapers. Instead, they were catalysts for newspapers to dig further, to offer context, analysis, perspective and storytelling that the electronic media couldn’t deliver. TV and radio didn’t kill newspapers; they made them deeper, smarter and more thoughtful.
For about a generation now, the Internet has supposedly been driving newspapers into extinction.
Nope. It’s just given their newsrooms another platform to deliver journalism that now includes videos, interactive graphics and access to informational archives built for years by … guess which medium?
Unlike websites and bloggers, newspapers are fixtures in their communities. Most of them were around long before personal computers and smart-phone apps, chronicling life, dissecting trends and exposing things that needed some air. And unlike less-established media, their newsrooms operate with standards and ethics intended to assure the credibility of the information they deliver. They don’t just make the record; they protect it, too. It’s a responsibility, a trust, a duty.
And while newspapers and their newsrooms have always broken stories, the Internet has now enabled them to cover breaking news, too, with reporting that goes directly up on-line — just as soon as it meets those newsroom standards.
So the evolution continues.
But the mission remains the same: To be there. For you. Because it’s your newspaper.
Commentary by Ron Dzwonkowski, associate editor for the Detroit Free Press, reprinted in observance of National Newspaper Week