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T-G’s still serving the community

Pencil Shavings

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There are a lot of theories as to why people no longer read print newspapers. Still, we have thousands who continue still read the Times-Gazette. It would take much more than this column to explain the ins and outs of the business.  

Yes, newspaper sales have declined over the years. But as one of my award-winning journalist friends so amply put it a few years ago in a column, “we’re still here.”  

The internet and social media have no doubt taken precedence over the evening post. I think there’s room for both and we’ve proven that over the years. (We are blessed that our paper is now available across the world.)  

When I was in advertising at another paper a few years ago, we were trained to ask advertisers — those particularly bent on Facebook only — one pertinent question: ‘How can you efficiently measure whether people are actually reading your Facebook ad?’ Most people cannot answer that question.  

The truth of print journalism is that people pay for subscriptions or they get the T-G out of the box for 75 cents. They then have an invested interest as silent stakeholders. (Some are more silent than others, which is just the nature of the business.)  

We are thankful for those who still invest in their community through support of the Times-Gazette. I’m also appreciative to those who offer constructive (versus destructive) criticism. Those who cannot take constructive criticism are set for failure. (Greater minds than mine said that, by the way.)  

With that in mind, I’m conducting my own community forum. Anyone who would like to meet with me about how we can make this paper even better, give me a call at 684- 1200.  

While I don’t mind opposing views, I prefer some substance to those community meetings. I would like to talk to people face-to-face rather than get smeared on Facebook. But we deal with that as well too as a journalistic society. We know too well how words can hurt. 

Sadly, I wish I could make the news “happier” as some people so amply have promoted their publications. But the sad part is, if we were to make everything “happy” in the paper, we would be doing a disservice to those who want to stay informed on all societal aspects.  

We are a mirror into the world through our pages. Still, we try to keep the T-G as local as possible. Some people have of late called T-G staffers “ignorant” and say we lack “integrity.”  

We were taught to have “thick skins” in journalism. But as it is in many areas, Facebook users can sometimes say the darndest things.  

Then there are those who thank us. Like the man who said a story about his partner who died of COVID-19 helped bring him out of his grief. There are those who love it when we post stories about their parents or their grandchildren; they genuinely tell us how grateful they are. The list goes on and on.  

The point is, you have a right to know and that information is available right in black and white and for a reasonable price.  

Have you priced national magazines lately? What about how much you pay for internet and TV?  

In years past, we had a much larger news staff. But I stand behind those staff writers who are here and give 100 percent to their craft. We still have young persons entering the profession and that says something to me as a seasoned journalist.  

We as a news staff and the entire T-G team continue to work long hours to provide the community information which we feel is beneficial to health and welfare.  

Ever put a newspaper together in just a few short hours? Ever have to redo a page because of breaking news? That’s what we do. It is an art form.  

I was always told that a well-educated person strives to read the newspaper at least a couple of times a week. If not for entertainment or hard news purposes, for the mere exercise in literacy which it provides.  

We at the T-G do get trashed for making mistakes. We, like others, make our fair share. We try to own up to those if brought to our attention.  

I believe there was only one perfect being, which was Jesus. That which we are not.  

Still, we must strive for accuracy. Yes, that is true.  

Joseph Pulitzer once said, “What a newspaper needs in its news, in its headlines, and on its editorial page is terseness, humor, descriptive power, satire, originality, good literary style, clever condensation and accuracy, accuracy, accuracy!!” 

I agree. The news staff is working hard, even on weekends, to try to cover as many community events as possible. We also try to work provide specialized content, such as our successful Bedford Life magazine, which will hit the stands soon.  

As far as investigative news, realize this isn’t Chicago. Though, some of our crime and corruption is pretty bad, we often do not have what you see on TV.  

Currently, we’re trying to cover court cases as much as possible. Court is not a “happy” place to cover right now, but we do it so the information is readily available—if you’re interested in reading about it.  

As one author once said, “The window of the world can be covered in one newspaper.” For you to obtain that information on your own, it will take you more time and effort.  

Or perhaps someone will just share with you on the street or on social media? That is your choice in a free democracy.  

Just realize how owners and publishers have invested their lifeblood into the veins of this paper. It is not a business for the faint-of-heart. I advise those who think all media stories are fake should think again.  

While I can’t speak for TV news outlets, I know that what the Times-Gazette currently puts out is not something we make up at our desks.  

While there will always be a little curiosity and creativity that plays into each triweekly edition, we learned in journalism school to check our facts. So if people want to continue to criticize, that’s their prerogative.  

Now that I’m editor, I wake up every morning and wonder what’s in store in the field. Ultimately, it is up to you to continue to support this local news outlet. It only takes a phone call or drive over to your local market to get a paper.  

I’ve invested many years in this business. But I encourage you to talk to your friends about subscribing to the local paper. It’s truly an art form.  

Last week, we met with some delays due to power failure and further technology issues. We truly thank those who stuck with us and supported us during this time. That’s what true community does—even with the newspaper.  

Are newspapers dead? As far as the T-G, not today.  

A lady asked me once why I work at the Times=Gazette. I like to answer such a question by quoting Polish poet Stanislaw Jerzy Lec who said: “I wanted to tell the world just one word. Unable to do it, I became a writer.”  

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