Editorial: Value newspapers

Editorial: Value newspapers

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Photo by David Ackerman

There’s something real about a newspaper, and it goes beyond the ink and page, beyond the action of picking one up at the drugstore or plucking it from the mailbox. 

We who work at TBR News Media imbue the paper, the one you hold in your hands right now, with our labor. If you could see us at our work, you would know just how hard and long we work to provide the community with as much local content as we can. Truly, the paper is alive.

While we editors and reporters are active in the community every day, we know the lives of the people behind the paper are not front and center.

Behind each of those bylines you might read in the paper today is a person researching, interviewing and eventually rapidly typing each deliberated word hunched over a desk. Each picture is edited and placed within the blocks of text. The ads are crafted by graphic designers spending hours arranging each one. We’re hardly some sort of news assembly line, working out of some monolithic New York City skyscraper. Our tiny, two-story office is located right here on the North Shore, blending into the surrounding rustic buildings of Setauket.

This past weekend, a team from TBR News Media traveled up to Albany for the annual New York Press Association convention. Hundreds of reporters, editors and publishers from papers from across the state gather for this annual event in a single location. 

Listening to the voices of the people at other papers during this event can be both disheartening and encouraging. Advertising dollars are down; and, while research from the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Media Engagement shows journalists rate themselves high in credibility, accuracy and trustworthiness, the public has a much lower opinion. 

“Fake news” has become a common phrase, one that was initially used for the express purpose of distorting facts during the 2016 presidential campaign. It’s now regularly used to denigrate a pillar of our democracy, which concerns us. It’s important for people to understand the importance of our profession to a healthy democracy. Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable is an expression often used to describe the role of the newspaper. We aim to hold people in power accountable and report on government operations, so citizens become better informed voters. We take this role very seriously. 

A good chunk of our staff lives within our coverage areas along Long Island’s North Shore. We carefully report on the community because we are a part of that community. We wish to see it thrive because we ourselves care about what should happen to our neighbors and the place in which we all live.

What does that mean for you, the person holding the paper? Know that we appreciate you. You’re keeping the paper alive.