One of the biggest issues we struggle with at the Journal-Tribune is that many community members don’t see the value of the news we provide.
People want news. It’s a fact. And despite some claims that social media is killing the traditional media, I would argue that digital sources are actually inflaming the public’s desire for information.
Every nugget of wisdom in the world is at the fingertips of the public. But the lost piece of the equation involves how that information becomes available on the web.
News gathering has value. Without reporters collecting accurate information, much of the community based information found on the web would not exist.
Online message boards allow users share information, but if you really breakdown the discussions you will see two types of information being shared. Those posts are either gossip or information gleaned from real news sites.
Take a look at the fatal trench collapse in Marysville earlier this week and look at how the information rolled out. Many people quickly knew there was an accident at the site, but actual information about the collapse and the fact that someone had died, was not confirmed until people began sharing posts from media sites.
For some people that initial snippet of information is enough and they got it for free. These are people who probably will never pay money for news. In a lot of ways, television and online news sources that give their product away for free, weaken their own business model. You can’t give something away to one person and expect the next person to pay. Imagine if walk-in customers at McDonalds paid regular menu prices, but those in the drive-thru were given food for free. Would you ever pay for a Big Mac again?
But in the media world free drive-thrus exist. And sure if you want quick and dirty news, you can find it for free.
These aren’t the people the Journal-Tribune serves. We have to serve the people who have a more refined taste in news.
We write for people who want to know more about the trench collapse. We give you the identity of the killed worker and ask questions about who is responsible. We ask officials why a safety device known as a trench box was sitting nearby, but not in use when the collapse happened.
There is a saying that you can acquire knowledge “a mile wide, but an inch deep.” This is what free news gives you. It can offer you a surface view of a wide range of topics, with no depth.
But at the J-T we hope to cover our tiny inch of Union County, with news that is a mile deep.
We don’t give away our product, because we pay reporters to gather information no one else is covering.
You buy our paper if you want to know that the local YMCA is asking the city to invest $3.8 million in its operation. Nobody else is covering that story and we have written about it numerous times because it concerns every Marysville taxpayer.
You buy our paper if you want to see updates on the Marysville High School Stadium construction project. Our pages are the only place you could have read that the local 2019 high school track season was going to be impacted by that construction.
You buy our paper if you care that the suicide rate in the county is at a record level. We detailed the personal tragedies at a family level and ask how the community can fight this silent killer.
Reporters are trained to find these stories and foster relationships with people who can provide answers. They work at night. They work on weekends. And they work on holidays because they believe in the service they provide to the community.
Reporters are here to serve your families, but they also serve their own and need to put food on the table.
Reporters have value. News gathering has value. Real news, a mile deep, has value.
We appreciate you for paying to read this newspaper which has been a part of the community for 170-years. We thank you for recognizing the service we provide and helping us pay those who provide it.
-Chad Williamson is the managing editor at the Journal-Tribune.
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