It’s National Newspaper Week, and we’d like to use that occasion to remind you of newspapers’ importance.
Newspapers are the way that the public stays informed about local news, in communities like ours all over the country. Without them, the flow of independent information to citizens would dry up almost completely.
Let’s just take Manhattan as a microcosm. Depending on how you count them, there are about 10 fulltime journalists employed at The Mercury, writing and editing stories and taking photographs. Beyond them, is anybody really keeping an eye on what local government entities are doing?
Not really. The radio operation at Manhattan Broadcasting has a fulltime news person, and some part-time help. The K-State Collegian operates with students who are learning the craft, with a focus on what’s happening on campus, essentially during the school year. There is no television news station here.
If The Mercury were to evaporate, there would be nobody keeping an eye on those in power. They would be able to get away with pretty much anything, because they could just put out their own public-relations spin to explain away whatever they’re doing. Who else would do that work? Your Facebook friends?
Manhattan is just one town in one corner of one small state. Around the country, due to the changing economics of the business, about 2,000 newspapers have gone out of business, creating “news deserts” where there really is nobody paying attention. This is a substantial crisis for our country.
The fact that you are reading this editorial suggests that you support, in some way, the continued existence of this particular newspaper. We thank you sincerely for that. We ask that you continue your support, and that you support newspapers generally across the country.
They’re under assault right now, not only from the economic trends driven by big-box stores and global digital behemoths like Google and Facebook, but also from politicians who want full control of the narrative. Independent journalism -- represented predominantly by newspapers -- is a threat to their power, and so they seek to undermine them.
Fortunately, Americans like you still subscribe, and that’s what gives those of us in this industry hope for the future. Both for our industry, and for the republic that we started here 244 years ago. The Founders did put the First Amendment first, knowing what they knew about the importance of an independently informed public to the whole operation. Newspapers are the standard-keeper, and, if you’ll indulge us, we’ll take a minute to salute, well, ourselves and our colleagues around the country.