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You dont know what you've got 'til it's gone

September 30, 2009 - Michael Palmer
There was a letter to the editor in the newspaper recently that posed an important question. If the local newspaper is lost, what will fill the void?

Perhaps it seems a bit self promoting, but I have been an employee at a newspaper that closed it's doors. I have heard the debate and seen the end result of losing a local newspaper.

The paper was a daily which covered a pair of small towns that were located in the shadow of a much larger city. The larger city paper purchased the small daily and within a short time phased it out of existence. Promises were made and plans were in place to insure that no coverage was lost for the local schools, sports or community events. These were empty promises.

The plans were altered, the big city paper cited a lack of advertising dollars to support the space required to fulfill their promises. These promises were also made to the employees, stating that there would be positions needed at the big city paper to cover the additional city councils, school boards, news and sporting events. This also never happened.

As in so many cases, the extra work was passed along to employees who already had full work loads. Meaning that little extra could be covered and that which was eventually covered simply was filler in between the sports, news and community coverage from the big city.

A weekly paper was tried, however, the big city paper simply reduced rates temporarily to all of the business clients advertising in the weekly and systematically cut off the life's blood for the paper and it too died.

The people who had sat idly by in their apathetic delusions now realized that people like Jack Gilham are wise. They had foreseen the void that would be left when the newspaper closed down. Instead of regular coverage for their sports teams, advertisers would have to be happy with an occasional visit from a photographer and rarely a reporter.

Sure, there would be briefs describing city council, school board and local news items. With the exception of crimes and major fires or such calamity that would sell papers and create interest from readers in the big city there were few features.

Complain as you must about what is in the newspaper or complain that there is nothing in the LOCAL newspaper. However, when it is gone, then you will realize just what is missing.

Here is the letter to the editor.

Newspapers Vital

Dear Editor,

Recently, Ann Arbor, Michigan, lost its daily and Sunday newspaper as The Ann Arbor Daily News ceased daily publication. Some may think that this is not a big deal because they will say they can get their news on TV or on the Net. There is no TV station, either locally or nationally, that can give the full coverage of the news like a daily newspaper can. Now, where will the Wolverine fans get their pre-game information on who will be starting in all their football games? Who is hurt, who will not be able to play, and what does Ohio State have this year? Where did the players on each team play in their high school years? How big are the players? Who will be starting in the games? Who are the quarterbacks and what kind of record do they have? Not only in college sports, but the local sports will be hurting. Where will the proud parents of the players get their clippings for their scrapbooks so they can look back on their accomplishments in later years? Not only sports, but where will they be able to read the obituaries and what the deceased did during their lifetime for their community? And where will be the proud grandparents be able to have pictures of the grandchildren published? Nowhere else but the daily newspaper will bring the full story of all the sports in their area. Recently the readers of The Times Leader were blessed with the annual “Pigskin Preview,” giving the fans a rundown of all the teams in their area and what kind of teams each school will be fielding. The closing of the Ann Arbor paper is just one of the number of daily newspapers that have ceased publication during the past year, and there will probably be more in the coming months, leaving a void in those towns and cities that can not be filled. The Ohio Valley needs their daily and Sunday newspapers, and hopefully we will continue to be blessed with our newspapers. In August, the New York Times published more than six full pages on the death of Senator Ted Kennedy and the history of the Kennedy clan. No TV could give that much coverage on one story. And, if the readers wished to clip that story for their remembrance in later years, they could. Kind of hard trying to clip a TV screen with a pair of scissors. Sincerely, Jack A. Gilham, Rayland


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