OPINION COLUMNS

Newspapers no longer living in land of make-believe

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, January 14, 2012

Once upon a time, in a land where Facebook and blogs did not exist, there was an industry that called itself the newspaper.

Brian Knox

Brian Knox

Townsfolk eagerly anticipated the news of the day by waiting for the newspaper to be delivered, or maybe they stopped by their local marketplace to pick up a copy. It was the only way that people could keep up with what was going on in their village.

With paper in hand, they sat down and read it cover to cover before going about the rest of the day.

And everyone lived happily ever after.

What a fairy tale, huh?

It is, at least in today’s world. The world of the newspaper has changed because the way we communicate has changed. Almost everyone now has the ability to “mass” communicate – through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, the list goes on.

And do you know what all those types of communication have in common? They are not just one-way communication devices. They all encourage public participation.

And as more people use these types of communication tools, they naturally want their news providers to follow suit. Readers want news now, and they want to be able to access it wherever they are on whatever mobile or nonmobile device they happen to be using. And they want to be able to respond to that news that very instant.

But what hasn’t changed is a newspaper’s commitment to and connection with the community.

And that’s the key.

We can employ all of the latest technology available, but if we aren’t providing the content that people want from their local newspaper, none of it matters. The connection must not just be maintained, but also strengthened.

So my question to every reader out there is this: if you could design a newspaper just for you, what items would you put in it? And would it be a printed newspaper, or would it be an online version? Would you read it on your home computer? Your smart phone? Your E-reader or tablet?

Our newsroom resolution this year is to improve the connection and lines of communication with the communities we cover. We want to know what is important to you. And we want the pages of our paper to reflect that.

We’ve got some different ideas about how to accomplish that resolution, and you’ll probably be seeing some of those ideas put into action in the coming weeks and months.

But for now, know that we’re ready to listen. We’ve employed all of the “mass communication” tools listed above. You can find us on Facebook (Wise County Messenger and WCMessenger Sports), Twitter (@WCMessenger, @WCMSports, @WCMtribe and @helveticavtimes) and blogs (just check out our web page at WCMessenger.com/columns and click on the drop down menu titled “Columns and Blogs” for the entire list).

You can also email us at news@wcmessenger.com or email our reporters individually (their email addresses are listed at the end of their stories). You can call us at the office, (940) 627-5987 or on our after-hours and weekend news tip line at (940) 393-3450.

You can also register to comment on stories online and submit news through our website. Just go to www.WCMessenger.com and click on the “Submit News” option at the top of the page. Then you’ll be given a number of options related to news, lifestyle and sports.

And if all this technology fails, or you prefer the face-to-face method, we still welcome items dropped off at our office.

There is no “moat” around our “castle.” And while we might not be living in a fairy tale world, there is room for a happily ever after.

2 Responses to “Newspapers no longer living in land of make-believe”

  1. Skip Nichols says:

    Well-written column … it will be interesting to read the responses.

  2. says:

    One of my simple pleasures in life is making the short hike to the end of my driveway in the morning to retrieve my bundled newspaper wating for me with new stories to read. I think that more people are aware of headlines because they greet you everytime you get on Yahoo, AOL, etc., but I tend to linger on a printed piece, read more critically, and retain more information. I tried reading the Star-Telegram and The New Yorker on my Kindle and just didn’t like it. When I read to be informed, I often go back and forth in a story/news piece. Electronic articles are too cumbersome for that kind of reading. Plus, you can’t clip articles out of a Kindle. Oh, and NOTHING can replace the tactile pleasure of flipping pages!

    Good piece, Mr. Knox. I enjoyed reading it…even online. Ha! Ha!

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