You hold in your hands a valuable document, an active part of your community that has told cradle-to-grave stories of the Enumclaw Plateau for more than a century.
And, contrary to nattering of some, we’re not about to go away. Like Mr. Twain famously said, rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated.
Admittedly, those of us in the journalism world often sell ourselves short. We preach the importance of advertising to our valued clients, but fail to adequately promote ourselves.
Occasionally, we need a kick in the pants to remind us we’re still a vital part of any community – and that’s particularly true in the smallish communities served by the Courier-Herald sisters. From Enumclaw and Buckley to Bonney Lake and Sumner, no one else is at every city council meeting and no other publication writes up every football game. This is where you’ll find your neighbor’s birth announcement and great-grandma’s obituary.
Journalists throughout the state, almost all from relatively small, weekly publications, gathered last week for our annual convention. Keynote speaker Tonda Rush, head of the National Newspaper Association, took the opportunity to put our role in perspective.
Far from a Pollyanna, Rush didn’t shy away from the all-too-familiar bad news. Advertising revenues dropped 48 percent during a recent five-year period and paid circulation has dropped by nearly a third since 1985. But the numbers that get tossed around primarily impact the big boys, the metropolitan dailies who attempted to be all things to all people.
But that’s not us, the weekly and maybe twice-weekly publications that serve a select group. We cater to our local readers and seldom look beyond our boundaries unless it impacts the folks at home.
That’s the recipe for success during these modern times when everyone is tuned in 24 hours a day, constantly receiving news snippets from sources both good and bad.
With that comes some good news, Rush reported. Those in the crucial 18-to35 age group are still newspaper readers, taking in at least one paper a week. And when it comes to their newspaper of choice, a whopping 80 percent of newspapers circulate fewer than 15,000 copies.
People still read newspapers and what they’re after is local news that matters to them. A recent report by the Pew Research Center confirmed what we have known all along: people believe they know their community by reading their community newspaper.
Some said the telegraph would threaten the newspaper industry. Then it was radio’s turn to do us in. Television was supposed to hasten our demise and Ted Turner predicted a quick death for the newspaper industry…two decades ago.
Rush emphasized we’re sitting in a “sweet spot,” providing the local content readers want. No one pretends the ongoing recession isn’t hurting our industry, but we survived a Great Depression and we’ll survive this bump in the road.
We’ll do it because of readers like you, who are holding his valuable document in your hands right now.