Community newspapers are still the centerpiece of communication

By Jonathan Key | Jun 05, 2012

The news a few weeks ago that the savvy investor, Warren Buffet, had purchased 63 Media General newspapers for $142 million showed to me that he knows the newspaper business isn't what it used to be, but it is a steady thread in each community, and one that is going to remain so for many years.

In his purchase, Buffet says that he doesn't expect to make a bunch of money from the newspapers, but rather he is challenging the belief that the newspaper is all but dead.

I have to admit, the business isn't like it used to be. We, in the industry, continue to try find ways to give our readers what they want, in the form that they want it. Online, mobile and tablet formats are commonplace in most dailies today. But, as Buffet so pointedly put it in one interview, "the internet revenue is peanuts compared to what it costs to run a newspaper."

In addition, Buffet says he plans to buy more newspapers in the future. But, not just any newspaper - small community newspapers. Why? Because he believes the same thing that I do. There is no replacing the value that a good community newspaper brings to the citizens it serves.

Where else would you find a picture and story about something as simple as a phone call to our elderly, as was reported in last Monday's edition? Or, the simple things like who is celebrating an anniversary or birthday in our community. Nowhere but in your local community newspaper.

The Mountaineer has been around for a long time. It has been keeping citizens of Haywood County informed and educated on a variety of topics. Just in the years since I have been involved, I have seen it transform people's lives, help organizations achieve their goals. I could list many other notable influences, but you get the picture.

But, it's not just about that. We need to make money, and to do so requires that we sell subscriptions, advertising and classifieds. Without these sources, we can't sustain the services this community wants and deserves. That's why when you are looking to buy something, buy it from a local merchant, if possible. That money not only stays in the community, but it sometimes helps our jobs become a bit easier when working on advertising campaigns with those businesses. They're no different than we are. They need local support to survive as well. It really is a full circle, with the community newspaper being in the center.

You see, without a community newspaper, we are just not a real community. As Buffet put it, “In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution than the local paper.”

I believe he couldn't be more correct. I believe there is a strong sense of community in Haywood County, and I am proud to be associated with that by being the publisher of your community newspaper.

And, I'm betting that Buffet, regarded as a wise investor, knows a good investment when he see one.

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