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Minnesota Opinion: Together we can be an informed community

From Forum News Service

An editorial from recent Minnesota newspapers.

Together we can be an informed community

RED WING — It’s not doom and gloom for small towns and their newspapers

Nothing connects people to their community better than a local newspaper does. Whether their delivery preference is print or online, two-thirds of residents in small-town America turn to their local newspaper for news and information.

That’s according to the National Newspaper Association’s most recent annual readership survey conducted.

Equally important, readers’ trust in newspaper content — news, sports, features, public notices and advertising — remains high and actually appears to be increasing as more and more unreliable, unsubstantiated material populates the Internet.

Overall, readers gave high ratings to the accuracy, coverage, quality of writing and fairness of local reporting, the survey conducted in 2013 found. The combined rating for “coverage of local news,” “quality of writing,” and “fairness of reporting” actually was higher than in 2012.

The survey also found:

* 94 percent of readers agreed that the newspapers were informative.

* 80 percent said that they and their families looked forward to reading the newspapers.

* 78 percent relied on the newspapers for local news and information.

* 72 percent said the newspapers entertained them.

The survey noted that more readers are using mobile devices to shop, read and communicate. The number with smartphones jumped from 24 percent to 45 percent and 39 percent said they used the phones to access local news.

Newspapers haven’t done a good job letting people know that the industry — in small cities and rural communities, anyway — is healthier than national headlines might make you think and more vital than ever. We deliver news you can use and that you need.

Most small towns would have no coverage were it not for the local newspaper, of course. TV stations and metropolitan dailies show up for the bad news and are gone tomorrow.

Jerry Lyles with Athlon Media Group puts it this way: “Newspapers are the eyes, ears and hearts of communities across America. They provide local news and information important to their residents that can’t be found anywhere else.”

If you want to know what city, school or county government is doing, pick up the newspaper. If you believe “it takes a village to raise a child,” then follow their activities in the newspaper. If you want to help shape your community, then stay informed, speak up and out. That’s why newspapers report the news, cover sports, write about musicals and print your letters to the editor on the opinion page.

“We know that it is very difficult for a good community to survive without a good newspaper and vice versa,” NNA President Robert M. Williams Jr. said.

We need you, dear reader, and we believe that you need us.

Red Wing Republican Eagle