By Tim Timmons
In many places all over the great state of Indiana, 4-H fairs are wrapping up.
Some have been over for a few weeks, and some just concluded.
In those same locations, daily and weekly newspapers have been busy compiling pages, tabs or special sections with fair results. There will be thousands of names and photos published of kids and community members.
From Susie’s blue ribbon sewing project to Billy’s prize-winning lamb to Pat’s record-setting pig, it’s a time of year when communities come together … and newspapers shine.
We document all of it. We publish the results. We spend sweltering days (especially this year!) taking pictures and writing stories.
It’s the fabric of our communities, and it’s the epitome of what we do – the heart and soul, so to speak. And if we didn’t, who would?
The next time a customer, reader or advertiser suggests that newspapers aren’t relevant anymore remind them of the 4-H fair.
Ask them what website (other than yours) they could go to and see all of those photos and all of those results.
Try not to get on too big of a soapbox, but ask them where they go to see the honor rolls from all the schools in the area.
Ask them where they read the police blotter each day?
Ask where they read Tri Kappa bridge results or news from the local garden club?
How about the scores from the retirees who play in a Thursday golf league? Or the results from bowling leagues?
Where do they go to see the school lunch menu? What about the promotion someone received at the local bank?
What about all those wedding, engagement and anniversary stories and pictures? At the funeral home, how did most people find out what time the viewing was?
Ask them what website they log onto to see the photos and results from the peewee leagues, baseball to softball to soccer to … well, you get the idea.
This doesn’t even mention the public notices, the school board meetings, the classified ads, the sales in local stores, high school sports – all the staples of what we do every day.
Even better, ask them where they go to get all of that, and more, in one place.
Of course we know the answer.
Now gently step off that soapbox.
We’ve got a great story to tell. Right now it seems even more important to tell that story since we’re seemingly under fire from multiple sources.
That’s OK. It shouldn’t deter us from telling our story. In fact, it’s never been more important to go on the offensive and remind our customers how truly vital we are to our communities.
If not us, who? If not now, when?
Tim Timmons is publisher of The Paper of Montgomery County (Crawfordsville) and The Times (Noblesville) and president of the HSPA board of directors.