With today’s technology and the younger generations constant use of social media to receive their news, in addition to the newsprint tariffs that have been in effect for several months, local newspapers have taken a big hit. Including several owned by Gatehouse Media, the parent company  of The Sun Times. In recent weeks, the Lonoke County Democrat, which was a consolidation of the Lonoke paper, the Carlisle Independent and the Cabot Star-Herald, the North Little Rock Times, which was a consolidation of the Maumelle Monitor, Jacksonville Patriot and Sherwood Voice, the Arkadelphia Siftings-Herald, the Hope Star and Prescott’s Nevada County Picayune-Times have all closed.

One would hope that this would be a wake up call to communities. The Lonoke County Democrat has been in business for 141 years, the NLR paper was almost 120 years. This is a sad statement for our nation. Our First Amendment felt the press was so important, it is the reason we can have a democracy. The newspaper business has often been called the Fourth Branch of Government because we have always been a check on the government. We have been the ones who verified what is said by the government. It is because of newspapers that Watergate was exposed.. There are probably hundreds of instances where a lone reporter saw corruption in a government office and exposed it thereby keeping the average Joe from being taken advantage of by companies or by government officials. I know that in this day and time many feel that the media causes a majority of problems. I won’t argue that point other than to say that is generally in the larger television news media, not necessarily print media.

Also, in today’s day and age, it takes money to run a paper. This means advertisers to generate revenue to keep the paper running. In the case of the above papers that have closed, the revenue was not enough to keep them afloat. Our parent company tried for three years to make them profitable. Without community support it wasn’t able to do so. This is a sad thing for all the small towns that are now without news coverage for their governmental meetings, their school sports, obituaries for those who have passed on. You may not think the newspaper is that important, but it is. We are one of those entities that people take for granted. I hazard to guess that a few months down the road the people in these communities will be wishing they had supported their local paper a little more.

As the rock and roll song said, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” That is the case with the hometown paper. Do you really want to live in a society where government has not checks? Where no one is around to ask the hard questions? The questions that many times have an editor in hot water with their publisher? Yes, I’m talking from personal experience here. The editor’s job is one that sometimes is very difficult and people will say things to an editor (usually by social media) that they would not even think about saying to anyone else. I have discovered that people can and do hide behind social media to say things that are so mean and that they know nothing about. It’s easy to do that. It’s not so easy to report truth, which is what editors tend to do. I have had more hateful things said about me for TELLING THE TRUTH! It is so easy for some people to lie, but I’m here to tell you, don’t lie to me. I take my editor’s responsibilities quite seriously and I fact check my stories and if you lie, I will bust you out. Don’t lie. It’s easy. And yet, when I do my job of fact checking, there are those who attempt to get me fired for doing my job. That, to me, shows the kind of person they really are. If you don’t lie to me, you have nothing to worry about. Which, frankly is how it should be. If you are an elected official or  running for office, don’t lie to me. I will verify what you say and I will report on it. In my opinion, you shouldn’t have to lie to be elected to office. If you can’t run on the truth and your own merits, you shouldn’t run.PERIOD. Don’t you agree? Do you want an honest man or woman in office? Or someone who says what they think you want to hear? Please think about this before you vote in November.

If you want to continue to read a newspaper that reports the truth, then please, support it. Business owners, that means placing ads in the paper. For citizens, buy a subscription. If you are over 55, The Sun Times cost is $52 a year. That’s $1 per week to keep in the know about what is happening in Heber Springs. Sounds like a small investment to me

Until next time...