Tricounty News

From the Heart: Community newspapers are vital

Imagine our surprise last January when, at our annual newspaper convention, TV news anchor Don Shelby announced the decline of television news. In his view, community newspapers met the needs of their readers better and more efficiently than often-corporate TV news. That got me thinking. And since January I've seen a number of things that prove Don Shelby to be somewhat of a prophet. Television news is in trouble. Between corporate cutbacks and local layoffs, they're really hurting. At the same time, I've noticed the "talking heads" on TV quoting community newspapers, and even showing them on TV as their "graphic" enhancement of the story. Several times a day. One example of how truly powerful local newspapers are came several weeks ago when tornadoes swept through Hugo, Minn. An editor-friend who lived two miles away (and was unaffected) was able to walk into the area to take photos when local TV crews and "big" newspapers were all turned away. Other papers, local TV, and even CNN used her photos to show the world the devastation in Hugo. (My mother-in-law in Europe saw the photos on CNN and, of course, called us immediately to make sure we were all okay.) Community newspapers have always been here, doing what we do best. It is the TV news that has lost ground. Cable, satellite and the Internet have all taken away from network TV. In a sense, newspapers have been helped by them, especially the Internet. Those newspapers that choose to evolve along with technological advancements - and their readers' needs - will indeed survive, and even thrive, in the years to come. I am proud to say that we have embraced and, dare I say, mastered state-of-the-art technology. Not just because we can, but because we must. We serve two groups of customers: our readers, and our advertisers. Both demand - and deserve - a high quality, local newspaper. If you are new to the Tri-County News, welcome! Check us out on-line too. We trust that you'll like what you see!