From the Editor: No news is bad news – Press Tribune Newspaper

Every so often, I’m asked some variation of, “What do you think about the future of newspapers?”

I answer with “a lot,” followed by a good news/bad news take on digital media and something about the importance of a literate, educated electorate. “Something” might be optimistic or not, depending on the day. But repetition of the question has prompted me to reflect on the Press-Tribune and its relationship with Roseville.

The good news/bad news take is that digital media is an extension of the most powerful double-edged sword in the world. It’s revolutionizing social and cultural environments for each successive generation, opening new doors as fast as closing others. It gives everyone instant access to more information than they know what to do with, literally. And yes, it’s a bugger to compete with for newspapers devoted to old-fashioned standards of quality, accuracy, thoroughness and fairness, which clickbait websites and anonymous bloggers tend not to worry about.

The openness of the digital space has allowed writers to trade the old values for speed and selective appeal, and in some cases that has proven an effective business model. Fair enough. But falling standards aside, I’m not the first to observe that digital media is as adept at dividing people into groups and confusing them as doing the opposite, and this, I realize, is where local newspapers remain essential. Trending be damned.

A community newspaper like the Roseville Press-Tribune is aimed at residents, not cliques, and its goal is to keep them abreast of what’s happening in their city — where they vote, shop, pay taxes, build houses and send their kids to school. The paper is a focused effort to keep citizens “in the know,” because people who govern themselves cannot do it in ignorance, and it’s no coincidence that a newspaper’s name usually includes the town it serves. The very idea of community is baked in.

Where websites, TV and radio can reach millions simultaneously, they must also do it with a broad audience in mind, competing for the general public’s limited attention among countless other options for stimulation and entertainment. Even regionally, that model lends itself to splashy headlines and trend pieces more than long-term beat coverage and in-depth local reporting, as you may have noticed. City budgets and high school volleyball tend not to make the cut.

Except in newspapers.

By attending city council and commission meetings and interviewing officials; by regularly combing through lawsuits, grand jury reports and public documents; by covering hometown sports teams and even by just showing up at Downtown Tuesday Nights, the Roseville Press-Tribune records and shares what’s happening here every week. In truth there’s more going on than we have staff to cover, but the first question for every story proposal is, “Is it local to Roseville or Granite Bay?” I don’t know another media outlet in the area that can say that.

I tell my reporters they’re both storytellers and historians, because if future generations are so inclined, they should be able to look up what was going on in Roseville at any given time in history by consulting stored volumes of its newspaper of record. The Roseville Press-Tribune has been a journal of this area’s history since 1906, and if readers value it enough to support it, another 111 years seems plausible.

Maybe the short answer to the question I mentioned in the beginning is, I never really bought into the fear-mongering about the internet being the end of newspapers. People predicted the same about TV news in the 1950s.

All this is to say that, while the Press-Tribune’s website and digital strategy will be critical going forward, the paper is here to stay, and nothing will change its old, solemn duty: to reflect the town and continue telling its story. To report the news.

We need not all be news hounds or watchdogs, but we all have a stake in following this story. For those in Roseville and Granite Bay who want to keep an eye on crime and sports stats, ballot proposals, land developments and what their elected officials are up to — society undervalues such neighbors, I assure you — we’ll have you covered.


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