Local newspapers are the beating heart of our communities. Along with the local coffee shop, they’re often the best way to learn about the local news or receive an update on the latest sporting events. Today, there are more than 120 newspapers throughout South Dakota, with circulations running from just a few hundred to tens of thousands for the Sunday edition. The 76th Annual National Newspaper Week was celebrated October 2nd through the 8th to recognize the impact of newspapers big and small, and the vital role they play in keeping citizens informed.
For hundreds of years, newspapers and journalists have played an important role in educating the American public. When we read a newspaper article, we may learn something we didn’t know before, or we may be able to look at certain issues in a different light. At a time when the internet and social media feeds are full of personal opinions rather than researched facts, it can be refreshing to read a well-written, factual newspaper article.
Additionally, newspapers are often better equipped than other news sources to provide in-depth analysis and devote extra time to local, concentrated issues. While television, online and national news publications provide important information on a macro level, often they have little time or resources to report deeper, more intricate stories on some of the most pressing issues of the day. Newspapers become a de-facto historical document to be kept and read over and over.
In South Dakota, the vast majority of our newspapers are weekly publications that focus solely on one specific community or region. While print media as a whole has seen a decline in recent years, our newspapers continue to thrive because they focus on what is important: the people, news and events in their towns. No birthday or celebration is too small to get coverage. It keeps us connected to our neighbors and our friends. It also keeps those who have moved away connected to their hometowns. Even though we live in Fort Pierre now, Jean still enjoys reading her hometown paper, the Lake Preston Times, which allows her to stay in touch with friends and family in the town where she grew up and where her parents still live. Such interconnectivity cannot be overstated.
As we celebrate National Newspaper Week, I’d like say I appreciate everyone who works in the newspaper industry in South Dakota. You know, care and understand the communities you serve better than anyone else out there. By sharing that information with the public, you provide an invaluable service to our citizens, which helps keep our communities vibrant and strong.