I get tickled when someone makes the statement that newspapers (and print) are dead. Are you kidding me? Not only are newspapers alive, but in a community like Cumberland County where we now lack both a local TV station and daily newspaper, a local weekly community newspaper like Up & Coming Weekly shoulders the responsibility of reporting, promoting, branding and showcasing the Fayetteville community: A task I was born to do. Confucius once said: “…one who finds a job he loves will never work another day in their life.” I truly believe this. So, not only will we never deal in “fake news,” I can also assure you our media demise is not eminent. Community newspapers are not going anywhere any time soon. Local weekly newspapers like ours are doing exceptionally well nationally. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that everyone predicted that VCRs would kill movie theaters and that TV would make radio obsolete and the telephone would put the telegraph out of business. Well, the last time I looked we have yet to lose any of these forms of communication. I know what you’re thinking. Telegraph? Where is a telegraph? Hint: Western Union! I assure you, the printed word will be around for a long, long time. And with it, newspapers.
“Fake News” is still a serious problem, and the biggest, most notorious sources of fake news are brought to us courtesy of the internet. No doubt, the internet and social media are the poster children for fake news. No rules, no conscience. Just say anything at any time regardless of whether it has any validity or truth. Cell phones make it too easy to record audio or live stream video to communicate and educate, to make us happy and joyful and stir our national patriotic pride. Or, the same vehicles can be used to destroy innocent reputations, wreck someone’s businesses or perhaps start a senseless riot that costs American lives and tens of millions of dollars. Today, social media and the internet are like the wild, wild west and like so many things, they started out being benevolent and beneficial for mankind and then ended up inflicting harmful and toxic unintended consequences.
Here’s the good news: Print media, and specifically newspapers, are going to experience a boon industry once people realize the only trustworthy news and information sources will come from locally-owned newspapers produced by people they know and trust. This is trending across the country and is precipitated by the large conglomerate newspaper holding companies buying up every daily and community newspaper they can find. This has created a hybrid of detached “cookie cutter” newspaper products void of compassion, ethics and journalistic integrity.
Successful community newspapers have reinvented themselves probably three or four times in the last eight years. They are owned by dedicated businessmen embracing and utilizing the internet and digital technology to keep their products effective and relevant. Trust. It’s all about trust. And that is the one thing community newspapers are delivering. However, if people want to know the truth, they must seek it out. This means they must make an exerted effort to find out what is going on in their communities and the world. People are turning away from the media because they do not trust it. When they turn away from the news, they are also turning away from their communities. They become oblivious to what is going on around them. That is, unless something becomes a major controversy, and even then, there is little evidence the truth will be sought out. Currently, we need to try to find real news and real truth and not allow someone else to speak on our behalf. We need to speak out boldly. Community newspapers are becoming the most effective way to do that. I have people every week email and call me saying, “Hey, Bill, you should write about this,” or “you should write about that.” My response is, “Hey, why don’t you write about it?” And there, my friend, is where community newspapers are making great headway in restoring readers’ confidence.
Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper is leading the charge. For 21 years, our news, views and opinions have been written by residents who feel strongly about the news and events taking place in our community. In addition to our “first-person” commentary, our writers’ names, photos and bios are attached to every article. This makes it personal. So, if you don’t agree with one of our local newspaper topics or writers, you have direct unabridged access to the source. Truth, honesty and credibility make community newspapers valuable to our society. They make readers want to know what’s going on in our community. After 21 years of publishing in Cumberland County, I know what makes our newspaper work – and it’s not how many papers we print. It’s who reads it!
I’ll conclude by saying there is a lot to be gained and enjoyed from reading local newspapers and engaging in the community. Don’t let the internet and social media “fake” you out.