The problem started with the dumbing down of our society. No longer are we smart enough to read critically, comprehend subject matter and form an opinion. The hand written word has already become a thing of the past, and it will not be long before the printed word is gone as well.
I had an awful lot of respect for Nancy’s father, who died last July. He was pushing his mid-nineties. By today’s standards he did not have a great deal of education.
As a matter of fact he had to drop out of high school to help take care of the family. This really does happen, but it was much more common in his day.
Like many of his generation, hard times forced him to enlist in the U. S. Navy to have a job, and he served his time during World War II. He later raised a family and educated his children so that they did not want for much.
By experience, then, he was a learned man who by trade was a welder and mechanic.
He was also a newspaper reader who usually had three different papers delivered to his home, mine being one of the three. We would discuss hot topics as well as local politics.
Today folks who subscribe to and learn from newspapers are becoming fewer. We are adapting by offering our product through multiple platforms. We post news through a website and Facebook as well as our printed publication.
The cost of a subscription at $30 a year was supposed to pay the printing cost for the newspaper every week. That is no longer the case.
I am so fortunate to have Donna McLean as our proof reader. She tries to keep us on the straight and narrow of grammar and punctuation. But now most people have no clue about any of that. Writing clearly was a skill that folks were once expected to master. Writing well is an art, now almost a lost art. Being able to take notes and transcribe them into clear facts from a class is a lost skill. What passes for eduction now comes from a computer and that does not produce the learning that recall, critical thinking and other good study habits produced.
Educational programs like “No Child Left Behind” lowered the standards so that students who didn’t master a subject could look as if they had, and now children are tested on test-taking rather than for mastery of the skill.
Here is where newspapers come in. If newspapers cease to exist because people don’t--or can’t--read them, no one will be left to draw attention to issues which may otherwise go unreported.
We do not see community papers ceasing to exist soon, but the larger metropolitan papers are becoming obsolete because readership is falling off and thus advertising declines.
As advertising, which is the life blood of the newspaper, drops publishers start reducting expenses to compensate, and the most likely place is in personnel. This paper under the current management paid 13 full-time employees with several part-timers to complete each edition. Now we pay five full-time positions with some part-time help for distribution.
The most noticeable difference is that the page count of the paper is smaller. We have been able to subsidize some of the traditional revenue through other products like magazine publications, phonebooks, digital through our website and other electronic platforms like Facebook.
But fear not; we are in it for the long run despite the industry facing many new challenges.
As long as we can, we will continue to hold politicians, leaders and the public accountable and keep fighting the good fight.