Our Opinion: Visions for the future of newspapers

The future of community newspapers in a rapid changing world is a focal point of discussion during this year’s observance of National Newspaper Week.

During the observance, which continues through Saturday, we offer visions of that future from representatives of business, government and the journalism industry.

• Investor Warren Buffett, in a letter discussing his interest in purchasing newspapers from Media General: “If a citizenry cares little about its community, it will eventually care little about its newspaper. In a very general way, strong interest in community affairs varies inversely with population size and directly with the number of years a community’s population has been in residence.”

• U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich.: “We count on them (newspapers) to regularly check in with the courts and police stations. They print announcements on births, deaths, engagements, marriages, anniversaries, church news, job openings, school information and service club endeavors. They publish notices of local municipal meetings. They print tax increases, initiatives, notices of changes in laws and property rezoning — all issues that most directly affect our pocketbooks by determining how our hard-earned tax dollars are spent at the local level and how are local officials are representing us.”

• Caroline H. Little, president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America in Arlington, Va.: “Just a few years ago, we were a print business with digital on the side. Today, we are bringing together print, web and mobile, and opening the possibilities for even greater advancements that now may be only dreams in a young innovator’s mind. ... In an era where anyone can say anything and call it news, it is newspaper content that consistently gets it right and keeps it in context. And a critical part of the industry evolution is the recognition that if you want to separate the serious from the sludge, it might cost you a little money.”

Those remarks characterize a newspaper’s role in reporting the everchanging activities, successes and challenges of community.

They also highlight a newspaper’s commitment to deliver its product conveniently — in print or via the Internet. Advances in technology also have allowed newspapers not only to deliver information, but to spark feedback and conversations that extend beyond print to our web and Facebook sites.

Finally, a newspaper strives for truth, fairness and objectivity. It filters what Little characterized as “the serious from the sludge.”

In the final analysis, technology has multiplied opportunities to interact, but our mission remains constant: To provide our community with an accurate reflection of its daily life.

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