Years ago, before I ever became a candidate for public office, I started my writing career by working for a weekly newspaper. All through high school, college and law school, I worked part time, mostly nights, reporting, editing, coordinating and distributing the local papers. The daily newspaper business has suffered from the emergence of social media, but luckily for many communities around America, there are still numerous weeklies, performing a service that no one can match.
As we celebrate our nation’s independence it is worthwhile to pause and recognize the contributions that the weekly papers make. President Trump enjoys attacking the national media on a daily basis with his hollow claim of “fake news.” To those of us in the political world those words mean that he disagrees with the truth. But when it comes to the weekly newspaper, no one can challenge the fact that they are as important to the average citizen as any media outlet that I could name.
Weekly newspapers date as far back as the 17th century, according to Wikipedia. The first known publication The Relation started in 1605 in Strasburg, Germany, followed by the Aviso, in a village known as Wolfenbuttel. Over a period of years, weekly newspapers in North America followed a similar format. Today’s weekly features community news, sports, family news, obituaries, features and reviews, editorials, public notices and hopefully some advertising. Long Islanders get a taste of major news items from Newsday, but nothing compares to how much information you can gain from the weekly paper.
For years, the daily newspapers have tried to highlight important developments on a village-by-village and a town-by-town basis, but they can’t give you the in-depth knowledge of what is going on in your home town in the way that a weekly does. At the end of any typical week, I like to learn what my local government is or isn’t doing. I check the editorials and even read the letters to the editor. I feel good about the local high school team that has won some major award and it’s nice to spot the name of a student who has made a major scholastic achievement.
Not too many people read the legal notices, but they are the only place you can locate information that could affect your home and your livelihood. A legal notice that some local government is planning to take away your front yard or that you owe property taxes and you are sure you paid them, won’t be found in the New York Times.
Each year around July 4, we celebrate the many freedoms we enjoy thanks to our Declaration of Independence. Let’s salute the weekly newspaper business for the many things it does to enhance our quality of life.