In a time of ‘fake news,’ newspapers, digital are trusted community partners

Newspapers are many things. They are solid records of their communities, reflecting the births, proud deeds and shameful misdeeds and passings of a community’s residents.

More than a mere mirror of a community, a newspaper can also be a lens, focusing creators and readers toward a goal that might otherwise seem out of reach. But a newspaper can also be a prism, taking subjects that we have trouble grasping and breaking them down to be understood in new light.

Newspapers are often old. (My last stop before joining this publisher was the Pueblo Chieftain, which just celebrated its 150th year in print.) Sometimes, they can be slow to embrace new concepts and adapt their inner workings to the changing world they chronicle.

Newspapers are in flux. Some newspapers are in real trouble.

But one type of newspaper continues to not just survive, but thrive – hyper-local community newspapers like the Southeast Express.

Yes, newspapers are here to stay. And a website backed by a reputable print publication can make the product even stronger. A healthy media diet, just like a healthy media company, encompasses many different kinds of news producers and products, and with offerings like our voluntary regular newsletter, we endeavor to offer the many sources of sustenance a well-informed media diet needs.

I’ve spent most of my working life in newspapers, performing one role or another. I trained as a reporter, but very early on entered behind-the-scenes production, becoming a copy editor and page designer before industry turmoil led me into the world of digital editing and publishing. For years, until very recently, I’ve managed newspaper websites and mobile applications. Now my path has led me largely back toward print newspaper production, with a supporting role for online operations; but always in my career I approached digital journalism as an add-on to, not a replacement for, the print product.

A vibrant, mobile-friendly website may just be the tip of the iceberg, but it’s the tip of an iceberg that you want to see first. Underlying that, the engines of a news operation and opinion community will be working in many formats to drive what you see going out online, whether it’s on the web, a social media post you can share or an email newsletter packaging what you need to know in a convenient bundle.

But in the end, journalism is journalism — the package doesn’t matter. The journalism I see happening all around me is the same basic practice I learned more than 20 years ago at the college named after iconic journalist Walter Cronkite, who once famously warned that “democracy is in danger” due to the lack of free airtime for political candidates. It’s a warning we’re hearing once more, as legitimate news media come under unfounded attack with each passing day.

This newspaper is new. It needs you, and you need it more than you might think. No matter what form it takes.