October 16, 2013
On a recent trip to Chicago, I realized the grand history and importance of a newspaper.
While walking up Michigan Avenue, I saw the Tribune Tower from over 10 blocks away. The 90-year old building is home to the Chicago Tribune, which is the most-read daily newspaper in the Chicago metropolitan area and Great Lakes region. It is currently the eighth-largest newspaper in the United States.
After admiring the neo-Gothic building from the outside, I decided to venture inside. Although I was unable to make my way past the security guards and velvet ropes, there was plenty to soak in inside the lobby.
The main lobby of the Tribune Tower is known as the Hall of Inscriptions. It is lined with famous quotations about the free press and promotes freedom of the press. It’s a majestic place to take photos and soak in the history of the newspaper.
Despite being in the lobby of one of the largest newspapers in the country, I realized not all papers are as successful. This is a tough economic-time for print journalism, as it is for other businesses. Newspapers nationwide are either slashing budgets and staff, going bankrupt or even closing down entirely.
Even though not all newspapers are as glorified, they all offer a unique service. There are many things newspapers do that simply can’t be replaced. Papers are a unique medium in the news business and can’t be easily replicated by television, radio or online news operations. In fact, many newspapers are intertwined with those other mediums.
What would happen to countries or cities if newspapers became extinct like dinosaurs?
In any given city or town, the local newspaper will nearly always have the largest staff of journalists of any news operation around. Because of those large staffs, newspapers are able to have “beat” — special area of coverage — reporters who are more tuned into the story and are able to cover it with greater detail.
Television news is unable to cover as many stories in-depth because of the lack of staff. Most often a television news cast will only show the stories that have popped up on a given day.
If you do not buy that argument, I would challenge you to just pick up the newspaper and read it from front to back and then watch the nightly television news.
Chances are you will find that the two mediums have covered the exact same stories, but the newspaper will also have articles covering many other issues like: How are the schools doing? Is property tax going up? What is going on in the local government?
The newspaper has been the go-to source for local residents.
A newspaper is the original social media network and for most people in a small town, it is the main source of information to find out the happenings in their town.
Just like the name suggest, newspapers are a source of news and information.
So as National Newspaper Week (Oct. 6-Oct. 12) winds down I leave you with a quote from our third president and principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.
“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.”
Lucas Vance is a staff writer for The Herald Independent and can be reached at email@example.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.