Newspaper closures hurt communities

October 29, 2021

In a day when partisan warfare and Facebook taunts can define the day’s public discourse, local newspapers like this one provide something else: They bind people with the glue of shared community.

Obituaries tell readers who died in town. Legal notices alert them to public meetings and court proceedings. Sports stories announce whose kid caught the big pass Friday night – or maybe who fumbled it.

Yet, increasingly, that community glue is drying up.

The glue that is lost doesn’t only bind readers. Without journalists shining light on public officials’ actions, corruption and misdeeds can thrive.

Then there are the financial costs to losing a local paper. In 2018, researchers found that newspaper closures led to higher borrowing costs for local governments, plus increased taxes and deficits due to the loss of a community watchdog.

We are proud of our 172-year heritage of sharing that information with you.

As part of our commitment to tell Cherokee County’s story, the Cherokeean Herald also runs yearly pictures of local high schools graduating seniors in our special Graduation Magazine along with newspaper coverage of commencement ceremonies; we herald the achievements of our local FFA, 4H and others in the annual Livestock Magazine – and try to provide regular, ongoing newspaper coverage of them, too.

We also encourage people to Shop Local, support Small Business Saturday and utilize their local Chamber of Commerce, which offers a plethora of networking opportunities as it promotes their business or organization.

We publish photos of pets needing homes; of local fundraisers, community dinners and efforts to help those in need. And for whatever reason that motivate them, parents, grandparents, family members – and other readers – save these items from our paper to place in scrapbooks, keeping a recorded family or community history.

Since 2004, the nation has lost a quarter of its newspapers. That’s 70 dailies – and more than 2,000 non-dailies. Most served smaller areas similar to Rusk, Jacksonville, Alto, New Summerfield and Wells.

If a paper closes, that sense of community, in and of itself, begins to disappears and die. To survive, newspapers rely on advertising – every page, letter, photo, obit costs money to produce and print. With smaller numbers of people and businesses buying advertising space because they feel they can share it much less expensively to a select target audience supporting their business or project, a newspaper takes not only a financial hit, but it creates a greater possibility of that paper shuttering, simply because there is no way to keep printing without income.

A community newspaper relies on YOU to help us tell the story of your schools, your governmental entities, your clubs and organizations. From sharing information for print, to supporting it with paid subscriptions and advertising, newspapers need your partnership.

Because not only does a local community benefit from its newspaper, so do those outside the area, who rely on what they consider a genuine snapshot of an area they want to visit or move to. Who want to catch local flavor with a tool that provides everything in a single edition. Who bring money to our communities because they want to support events and businesses here.

A local community newspaper is the only partner a community has that will ever care enough to tell your story so that others will hear it.

However, if it’s gone from lack of support, YOUR voice disappears, too.

The Cherokeean Herald