In the current state of rapid-fire communication, it’s easy to find out the latest on the president’s health care plan, or the gossip from Hollywood through any number of sources. But the news from closest to home is usually the news that affects us most directly — in our homes, our schools and our neighborhoods. That’s why local newspapers still have a very important role to play in keeping our communities strong and our residents informed.
Newspapers are the documenters of the history and stories that make our hometowns special. Where else will you find the stories of local heroes, births, deaths and marriages alongside the chronicling of local zoning questions, street closings, crime activity and civic debates?
An important role of local newspapers is keeping the dilberations of our elected bodies before the people. Most people don’t have the time or inclinations to sit through a city council or school board meeting. We rely on the eyes and ears of local reporters and their editors to synthesize what happens and report back to the community.
In a society where it’s often too easy to sit on the sidelines and let others do the work of government, newspapers keep our residents informed about how the wheels of government are turning. They help assure transparency in government by keeping the actions of our elected bodies in front of their constituents.
Admittedly, newspapers have seen their share of challenges in recent years. Readers are getting more and more accustomed to user-generated Internet news outlets bringing news directly to them without the filter of reporters who are trained to ask questions and to check their facts. But local newspapers are meeting this challenge by marrying the traditional print papers with new online versions that meet the needs of junkies of all types.
Newspapers are a key to the success of our hometowns and bringing democracy to the front steps of our residents’ homes. Celebrate National Newspaper Week Oct. 4-10 and recognize the importance of your local hometown paper.
Editor’s note: The writer is the executive director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina.