Celebrating newspapers, still the best source for news – Observer-Reporter

Newspapers once occupied a lofty perch in America. Hollywood loved them, centering plots on newsroom operations in popular films like “The Front Page,” “His Girl Friday, “Citizen Kane” and “All the President’s Men.” “Lou Grant,” depicting the machinations of a fictional Los Angeles daily, was a popular CBS-TV show from 1977 until 1982.

The print news product proliferated through the 1970s, with most large to mid-sized cities supporting at least two dailies, some four or five. Being a newspaper reporter, at that time, was a highly respected profession.

A decline in advertising revenue and rise in costs, accompanied by the immediacy of internet news, have diminished the traditional daily paper over the past decade. (Afternoon papers, once a strong entity, have essentially disappeared.) Newspaper staffs, likewise, have shrunk. In four of the past five years, the job-search site CareerCast has included the noble newspaper reporter among the worst of vocations.

All media have been under siege since Donald Trump began seeking the Oval Office two years ago, accused of promulgating “fake news,” especially when reports cast an unfavorable light on the president. The reality is Americans should be thankful it has a responsible media, for the most part, providing a checks-and-balances system more effective than what members of Congress are paid to do.

National Newspaper Week will kick off Sunday, celebrating an industry that fulfills its core purpose – delivering news – better than any other medium. A newspaper, like the Observer-Reporter, is regional, topical and tells a more complete story than a TV or radio station can in a sound bite or two-minute clip. Its articles are factual, not fake, subject to a quality-control regimen that requires a reporter to be accurate and a team of experienced editors scrutinizing that work.

Fake news? There is a preponderance of that on the internet, which so many people trust. Beware of bloggers lacking journalistic credibility.

A daily newspaper also provides variety, reporting on state, national and world events as well as those nearby. There are sections for business, sports, obituaries and entertainment. Editorials and other opinion pieces provide perspective. People seeking jobs, employers with jobs and those looking to sell or buy can flip to the classified ads.

For amusement, there are comics and crosswords. Oh, the tangled lives of Rex and June Morgan and everyone around them.

Weekly newspapers, like Observer Publishing’s The Almanac, deserve a nod as well for their diligent work. The Almanac covers communities in southern Allegheny and northern Washington counties, and supplements the O-R with stories that the daily publication cannot always accommodate.

Newspapers have adapted to the need for breaking news, upgrading their websites to post events soon after they happen, then following up with articles providing greater detail. Those stories remain online and appear in the subsequent print edition.

The printed product does remain relevant. Some sources – especially The New York Times and The Washington Post – appear to be gaining momentum covering the Trump presidency and other global turbulence. Unlike local TV outlets that like to boast, “Channel Whatever has just learned” or “You saw this here first at 6 o’clock,” newspapers generally shun self-promotion.

Next week, we won’t.


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