Your Villager newspaper is what we journalists call a weekly — meaning, as it sounds, published once a week.
Even though National Newspaper Week doesn’t come up until October, weekly newspapers need to be heralded every single day, because keeping a weekly newspaper afloat in this time is a constant financial strain for owners.
In our age of instant, visual breaking news, a weekly may not seem like much, but, believe me, it is. The news weekly is an important and valuable form of thoughtful journalism that has been around since the early days of the republic.
In our time, weeklies are essential to civic and community life. They are extremely valuable sources of keeping us informed about meetings, issues, developments, sports and activities in our towns and villages.
In some instances, our weeklies provide opinionated commentary to help in the tackling of local problems and issues. Their insights come from feeling and knowing the pulse and heartbeat of their communities.
Consider for a moment how valuable the Villager has become in keeping us alert to the Covid-19 virus in the Auburn community. Some of the best articles, commentary and medical advice about the pandemic I’ve read have come from the Villager.
Weeklies are also the oldest form of American journalism. Our daily newspapers came along later in the mid-19th century, fueled by shocking reports on crime and political corruption and readers’ thirst then for that type of negative information.
Today, our weeklies concentrate on keeping us informed about local government decisions, civic matters and discourse — and sports. Without our weeklies, I’m not sure how else we could learn what we need to know to be good citizens.
Today, vast numbers of our weekly papers are on the ropes and struggling to survive in the long run. Costs for newsprint, labor, mailing and local distribution are weighing heavy on their bottom lines, while their slimmed-down staffs struggle to keep up with the round-the-clock news cycle of cable TV networks and the Internet.
The weeklies, though, have a better chance of making it in the long haul, but only if they are supported in their mission by local readers, residents and businesses. Community-minded owners commonly run their papers more as a local public service rather than a major source of a livable income.
If you are fortunate enough to have a weekly newspaper — and you do in Auburn, and a very fine one — then you need to support the paper by subscribing to it and advertising in it, if possible. My words are not a plea for money, but a call to arms to support weekly local journalism.
To newspaper people, journalism has always been an altruistic profession, where the mission is far more important than the financial reward.
But most newspapers today are in big financial trouble. Their long-term outlook is extremely bleak. If newsprint journalism is to survive — and we all pray it will — it will be in the weeklies, where costs stand some chance of being managed.
The huge financial expense for newspaper printing, delivering and associated labor are a big drag for the dailies, which are falling aside as time moves on. These expenses also affect the mission of the weeklies.
Today, visual and audible news is available in 24-hour cycles on the cable news networks. But their type of biased, argumentative journalism is a turnoff for Democrats, Republicans and independents. And after a while we all tire of the angry shouting matches from the whole bunch of them and the commentator/hosts.
Most TV journalism is reactionary and horribly partisan, while print media, like newspapers, lean more toward a middle ground with thoughtful solutions rather than overheated opinions.
Perhaps the major purpose of community journalism is to provide stability and trust in local government. The articles and columns allow time for reflection, rather than reaction. They give more time to dig in, look back and determine a future course.
We know you do not want a weekly publication that promotes constant controversy, and with Don and Nikki Eddins and family as your owners and publishers and Brian Woodham as editor, I can assure you that is not the intent. They are solid and responsible newspaper people who love the Auburn community and wish to help it succeed.
Auburn is lucky to have a weekly as respected as the Villager. So stand behind it, support it with your subscriptions and advertising and keep it moving forward. The payoff comes in the form of better government, better community, better town and better citizens.
Ralph Morris is a retired newspaperman who lives near Auburn. His email address is email@example.com.