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Newspapers down, but by no means out

Have you read the obituary for the newspaper industry? No doubt newspapers are facing some tough prospects these days, but so are bankers, automakers, realtors, construction workers, etc.

One Daily Post employee has taken to sticking her fingers in her ears and singing "la-la-la" to drown out the latest mention of layoffs, circulation cuts or closings in our industry.

Despite what you hear, I'm bullish on papers, especially community newspapers such as the Daily Post, and here's why:

1. History's on our side

We've been putting ink on paper to disseminate the news for more than 400 years. Name another industry that's been around that long.

Over the years, newspapers have adjusted to changing readership, demographics, new technology - radio, television and now the Internet - recessions, depressions, etc., and we survived.

2. People still value local news

While the Internet has granted millions access to news from across the world, it isn't reporting news from down your street. That's where a community newspaper comes in.

The Daily Post was the only media at last week's Dacula council meeting. The Daily Post is the only print and online medium reporting on the home team Gwinnett Braves in any detail. The Daily Post is the only news source tracking local cops and courts and what's going on at your church and in your kid's school.

Let's face it, a new mini-mall being built behind your house affects your life much more than the latest turmoil in Sri Lanka.

The Daily Post is different from the major metro newspapers because we are the EXCLUSIVE distributor of our bread-and-butter product - community news.

3. It's the economy

The primary difficulties newspapers face have nothing to do with the World Wide Web. The Internet didn't cause the housing crisis or the banking crisis or the auto crisis, and it did not cause retailers to go bankrupt.

Newspapers rely on these businesses for advertising revenue, and when they hurt, we do, too.

When banks start lending and people go back to work and start buying cars and houses again, we'll realize that rumors of our death were greatly exaggerated.

4. The Internet

The Internet does, however, loom large in our future. When radio and television became mass media, they took their share of audience and revenue. The Internet will do the same.

A primary difference, though, is that print journalism translates perfectly from paper to online. Radio and television rely on short sound bites delivered by "personalities."

Print journalism and broadcast journalism don't mesh. The Internet, however, is perfectly compatible companion to the way print delivers news.

5. Fair, accurate reporting

To maintain a news audience, you must gain trust with accurate, unbiased reporting. Any local yokel can now put up a Web site and call it the Hometown Gazette. Generally, they have a political agenda and readily print rumors and hearsay without checking anything out. I believe the general public still wants a place to go for accurate, balanced reporting. It's the Daily Post's goal to give it to them.

No doubt these are challenging times. But we plan to continue to serve our community as effectively as newspapers have since the days of Ben Franklin and the penny press. Don't write us off yet.

J.K. Murphy is publisher of the Gwinnett Daily Post. E-mail him jk.murphy@gwinnettdailypost.com.