THE PRINTED NEWSPAPER IS a life force, the beating heart of a community. It is a warm and comfortable medium, a product able to command and sustain an audience. This week is National Newspaper Week; and I’m here to tell you publishers and editors are working hard to make the changes necessary to earn your trust.

Without newspapers, America would eventually be nothing more than a collection of people simply living in the same geographic area. Do you really want to see that happen? Is that the type of community you’d want to call home?

It’s been fashionable for years now to write off newspapers as relics of a vanished era; dinosaurs who are too naive to know they are supposed to die; orphans who have no place in the glitzy, fast-moving digital age.

The newspaper industry is not alone in having been upended by the digital revolution. Name one media business that has not been profoundly disrupted. Look what has happened to cable and the major TV networks, the nightly news, the entertainment industry and even Facebook.

Gathering news that means something takes effort and commitment. Bloggers take the easy way. They read the reports of dedicated newspaper bureaus and then, slant the news to fit their niche, their echo chamber.

Newspapers are still the source for local news to trust. They will always be the heartbeat of your community. Distinctly different from the large daily newspapers, the weekly community newspaper remains the single best source of news and information that is important to you.

As your local newspaper, it is crammed full of local news, award-winning photos and special features. Community newspapers are treasured because they run the whole gauntlet of events and happenings in the areas they serve.

They stress the strengths of the past, school activities, features about your neighbors, government meetings, engagements, marriages, coming events and the things that truly matter to you. Even obituaries are not taken lightly.

Community newspapers are the unofficial scrapbook fillers for families; the carrier of glad tidings to parents, grandparents and friends.

If that’s not enough, your community newspaper helps create a sense of community, where good things happen and people know their efforts will be recognized and rewarded. Don’t take that for granted. Your local paper cares about your community.

Its personal relationship with the community extends into every facet of leadership, involvement, encouragement and monetary support of those things that are best for your hometown and county.

Your hometown is where everyone becomes a neighbor when there is a need. It’s where businesspersons dig deep many times to help with countless fundraising projects. It’s where the traffic jam ends when the light turns green. It’s where, when all is said and done, it’s a pretty good place to live.



*  *  *

“BROTHERHOOD IS AN easy word to say, but a hard one to live,” said Chris Satullo. Several decades ago, Satullo was an editor at the Express in Easton, Pa., and a columnist for Thomson Newspapers. In one column, he found a link between a good brother and a newspaper, because they care.

Brotherhood is one of those vague “feel good” terms that get tossed around a lot. Satullo had no doubt that brotherhood is a real commodity and a precious one. It is not all sweetness and light.

Brotherhood has to have plenty of space for rivalry, the kind that turns every one-on-one basketball game into a bone-bruising, teeth-rattling test of the “right stuff.” Brotherhood also must have plenty of room for shouting matches, as people of similar personalities, but different views, whack away at each other’s armor.

It’s pretty obvious how rare a commodity brotherhood with a capital B is. It has to be more than a feeling of vague benevolence that will blow away at the first gust of disappointment. Satullo said “Let him boldly propose that a kind of bond of brotherhood can exist between a newspaper and the community it serves.”

For one thing, they can’t really do without each other. The newspaper draws its life from the town it serves; its readers are its reason to be. If you want to be an involved, connected citizen of any community, the local newspaper remains indispensable.

So we need each other; the prerequisite for a sense of brotherhood is met. Foremost, a newspaper must really care about a community, caring that extends beyond the search for ad revenues and grist for the editorial mill.

Like a good brother, a good newspaper cares enough to speak painful truths, to be the alarm sounder, even the prophet of doom. A good brother relishes your achievements very nearly as though they were his own.

What does it matter to a community whether its local paper meets this brotherly ideal or simply offers information without context? It matters a good deal. It calls its community to account, just as a good brother does.

Then, the newspaper sticks around to help people deal with the truths it has unearthed. It provides people with a safe place to let off steam. It airs differing points of view, insisting that the truth of the matter is usually diverse, not singular.