Associations: Unmask Your Newspapers’ Relevance


For the sake of our future, the best read right now is how local newspapers are coming through for their communities.

Special reports about the vital storytellers and testimonials about advertising/marketing solutions must document the resilience of local newspapers as they battle what many are calling their most challenging year ever.  Don’t assume people know either.

That’s why I circled as a best practice the action by the Kentucky Press Association and its 2020 president, Jeff Jobe, to “showcase what newspapers did during” the pandemic.

The association turned to Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky.

Smart move.

Cross produced an “independent report” based on research and interviews with publishers and editors that captured how “the community papers of Kentucky came through for Kentuckians.”

Among the achievements, Cross wrote, local newspapers “published special sections devoted to the pandemic. They told the stories of people affected and anguished by it. They published tributes to front-line local heroes. They served as trusted sources of information about a subject that became scientifically confusing and politically contentious. They helped readers separate fact from fiction, and they held officials accountable.”

Overall, they remain super-relevant to their communities.

Details about newspaper victories during COVID-19 dotted most virtual conferences conducted in the last year by newspaper and publisher groups. And articles appear in newsletters.

But there’s more to do.

Much more.

State and provincial associations are uniquely positioned to report the full scale and amplify the specifics of how their members survived along with their communities, and, in some cases, reinvented themselves.

For starters: You Can Read Al Cross’ full report at The Rural Blog.

(Relevant Note to associations: If you’ve done this, please let me know. I’d like to capture all such updates in Relevant Points.

David Thompson, the executive director of the Kentucky Press Association, touted the special project to members in his weekly newsletter, urging them to publish the article and the accompanying artwork.

No one should be bashful. 

Thompson included a message from Jobe, whose “last project” as KPA president was lining up the Cross report.

“In the past few months alone we have had newspapers close, merge, sell and some even begin new publications.  We are indeed changing as the time demands.  But through all this we have remained loyal to the communities we serve,” Jobe wrote.

“This loyalty can go unrecognized because our service is expected and this is fine. We do what we do not for the recognition, we do it because we believe in what we do and know the value.”

Jobe also articulated how associations are even more relevant to their members in 2021 as the pandemic unfortunately continues its damaging course.

“…We need to record in our histories for one another how we remained loyal and strong, how we proved once again that we were here when our communities needed us and we are indeed trusted,” he added. “Together  we can show our readers that we all did our part and together we move into the future.”

Well said.

Next up?

—Tom Silvestri

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