In the 1930s, small businesses lasted an average of 45 years in their communities, which is a lot different at today's average of just seven years. We are proud to celebrate National Newspaper Week this coming week because newspapers have been around for centuries and are still essential. The Adirondack Daily Enterprise has been vital in our Tri-Lakes communities for more than 119 years.
There are many reasons this and other newspapers have remained essential through the invention of radio, TV and digital devices.
The first newspaper published in America was in Boston in 1690. It quenched readers' thirst for news from Europe, and their drive for free speech sparked a demand for more newspapers - and more, and more ...
Despite some people's perception that today's younger generation has abandoned newspapers, it is quite the opposite. Some 57 percent of young adults between 18 to 34 read newspaper content in a given week. It is shown that with the deluge of information on the Internet, they believe newspapers are the most reliable and trusted source to provide up-to-date, accurate and important news.
Newspapers are the only consistent historical record of a community. What other medium documents everyone's birth, sports and academic accomplishments, graduation, wedding, death and every other event of one's life that was a big deal to the community?
Newspapers connect us as communities and as a nation. When we all know the same news and stories, are engaging with the same opinion page forum and doing business with each other through the classified ads, we break out of our individual bubbles and become happier and stronger by sharing this life with those around us.
Newspapers convey the news you need to know like no other media, and in all platforms. It's perfectly possible to drop out of society into your own personal world, but when you start realizing what all is going on right around you, you might find you can't afford to be out of the loop.
Newspaper also connect us by sharing stories that affect us. We recently had a flood of readers thank us for telling a story about a local firefighter and a Florida blues singer who reconnected almost 50 years after he saved her from a burning hotel when she was just 4 years old - and just days before he died of cancer. Enterprise readers also tell us they love the Friends & Neighbors and Senior Superstar profiles of local people, and the stories told by columnists like Bob Seidenstein and Joe Hackett.
Newspapers are interactive, and in an intelligent and decent way. Look at all the letters to the editor and Guest Commentaries from local people on the Opinion page every day. We try to run every one we receive. Want to share your view, whether it's a public thank-you or challenging one of our editorials? Go ahead; we'll publish it, free of charge, as long as you give your name and follow some other basic guidelines that are there to keep the forum from devolving into an unreadable mess. Cable TV news stations are full of professional opinionators, but if you don't agree with Bill O'Reilly or Rachel Maddow, can you write them a letter and have them read it in full on the air? Ha. On our Opinion forum, however, our own editorial voice is almost always outnumbered by those of other locals.
Plus, a newspaper Opinion page is a place where a conversation on local issues can play out as intelligently as is possible. It's not like anonymous online comment forums. The rail-vs.-trail debate, one of the biggest and hottest issues in the Adirondack Park, has played out on this page over the last three years with hundreds of letters. It's a big issue, and because of this Opinion page, Enterprise readers know as much as is commonly known about it.
Newspapers are the watchdogs that stand up and speak out against injustices with truth and determination that we could only do because our readers demand it. You hold us to a high standard, and rightly so.
Newspapers have been and are important because we have learned to give you compelling news that informs, entertains, stimulates thought and offers you a voice to express your opinion. We do all this while the changes in technology has given us the opportunity to double our readership and expose you to more than ever before.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, surprised many when he bought The Washington Post recently. He claimed that he has the technology and newspapers have the trustworthy brand. He said, "When we're at our best, we don't wait for external pressures. We are internally driven to improve our services, adding benefits and features, before we have to." That sounds like solid advice to help us celebrate National Newspaper Week far into the future.
What would you like to see in our newspaper, so that we can keep you reading for many years to come? What would you never want us to drop? What should we get rid of? What should we add or do more of? Let us know with a letter, either just for our eyes or to publish for everyone's.