There’s been a lot of talk lately about restoring trust in newspapers. The term “fake news” is probably the most prominent sign of a media industry currently under siege. In a recent study, nearly 35 percent expressed high levels of trust in news they get from local newspapers, while less than 15 percent trust information from their daily newspaper and social media connections.
Social media and large newspaper organizations, could learn a lot from small town newspapers about being authentic and winning the trust of readers. Small town papers have been around for a very long time. Seldom, if ever, do the small newspapers sensationalize stories just to sell papers. Why would they? There isn’t any significant money in individual paper sales, the bulk of a small newspaper’s revenues comes from advertising sales. So if you want a fair and independent voice buy an ad!
The small local paper challenges powerful corporate businesses and community leaders to do the right things for interests of their readership. Local newspapers are the thread that hold the fabric of a small town together. Readers know we’re honest and they know we love the communities we cover… that we stick to the facts of a story.
Local newspapers print photos and write stories about youths, students, clubs and sports teams every week. Something hard to duplicate for the image of schools. Children, parents, family and friends like to see their classmates “doing something good.” Perhaps they’ll be motivated to try and get in the newspaper, too. One of the big differences between larger metro newspapers and community journalism is the local newspaper has a face its audience sees every day. Sports reporters and news reporters and the occasional columnist.
Readers have no problem telling the local newspaper what they think of their paper. And they have no problem in writing to the newspaper about issues that concern them. We’re proud so many readers use our editorial pages to express themselves, it speaks again to trust. It’s not uncommon for this newspaper to have several letters to the editor weekly.
It’s been said the local newspaper is the heartbeat of a community. We think so.