RPD: Rebut Tiresome Arguments

111th in a 2022 Series

This column was originally pitched for use during National Newspaper Week in October. I’ve tweaked it for anytime publication. If anything, use it as inspiration for your own version of what irks you.

By Tom Silvestri

It’s been almost three years since I received my last paycheck from a newspaper company before retiring as a publisher. In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to advocate for local newspapers that remain Relevant to their communities. That advocacy, however, keeps running into tiresome arguments that are as yellow as faded newsprint. I’ve assembled a collection of these errant statements that numb the mind, along with a suggestion: When you encounter them, just turn the page, yawn or call timeout to replenish the beverage.

Newspapers are dead. Not if you are reading this in print. Not if you get your news from a local newspaper online. Not if you desire trusted journalism.

Newspapers face tough challenges. And so does everyone. That’s called life.

Nobody reads newspapers. Latest research annihilates this one. Check out http://www.relevanceproject.net for data compiled by the research firm of Coda Ventures, for example.

Newspapers must act with urgency. Embraced a long time ago. Old news.

Print vs digital. It’s not an either/or argument. Newspaper media understand it’s an “and” strategy — print AND digital. Move on.

Only Metros are Pulitzer Prize newsrooms. Consistent, thorough beat coverage over the course of a year merits better recognition and appreciation. Local newspapers are the lifeblood of a community.

Governments should be required to place legal notices in local newspapers. It’s more than tradition. It’s demonstrated transparency by responsible government. Newspaper readers are the best voters, by the way.

Cutting days of the week is good for newspapers (this is for the industry). Please, admit it’s about saving money. Don’t tell me fewer days of publication are good for readers. Also, stop with the “digital transition” lectures.

News stories should be free. The digital giants have wrecked that ability. So have the demise of Classified ads and the disappearance of preprinted advertisements. Free doesn’t pay for a local newsroom.

Journalists can’t be objective. Outstanding trusted journalism stands on its own. When it resonates and is a force for positive change, the objectivity worry melts. Accuracy rules.

I stopped at 10. Do you have one? Expose, explore and explode it. Let’s never give up on extinguishing tiresome arguments that distract us from keeping newspapers Relevant.

In the meantime, thank you for supporting local newspapers.

Tom Silvestri is executive director of The Relevance Project, a community newspaper resource and advocate financed by Newspaper Association Managers of North American and the SNPA Foundation.

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