Why newspapers matter
Last updated 10/7/2020 at 11:06am
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked a question about something the newspaper had covered or answered already, I'd be a wealthy woman.
Case in point: I've seen many posts on social media and messages to our office asking why the water level in Big Johnson Reservoir had gone down again. With so many people excited to see the water refilled back in January after sitting empty for a few years, it's understandable they would be upset to see it empty again so soon.
I drive by there a few times a week, and I had the same disappointed feeling when I saw the water level declining. Being the curious person that I am – and knowing that other people would be asking the same thing – I contacted the officials in charge of the reservoir and got the answer. (If you missed it, you'll have to revisit our Sept. 9 issue. OK, I'll give you the Cliffs Notes version: It's only temporary, and it should be refilled in the next couple of months.)
Since that answer was published on Sept. 9, I've seen the question posed several more times. And each time I have summarized the answer and directed the person back to our article with full details. I do try to be polite, but sometimes my inner self is screaming, "You'd know the answer if you had read the newspaper!"
I do realize that far fewer people read newspapers nowadays, so I'm not surprised. People today often expect to find out everything on Facebook or Nextdoor or some online forum. They want it at their fingertips immediately, and they want it for free. But how do they expect that to happen? The bottom line is that someone still has to seek out the information. That's why reporters exist. Once upon a time, most of society knew that the local newspaper had many of those answers. People didn't gripe on social media about not knowing something - they picked up a paper to stay in the loop.
All of that effort on our part isn't free. Shockingly, journalists do expect to get paid – and it's usually not very much. We are expected to keep tabs on elected officials, crime and just about everything else that happens. Oftentimes, people don't want to pay for a subscription; they get upset when a click to an online article prompts them to subscribe. Do they think that this important information isn't worth a little money?
Should we become a society where journalists don't exist and government does whatever it wants, with no watchdogs? Being a reporter is a stressful job that requires a lot of time and dedication, often gets backlash from all sides, and doesn't pay nearly as well as most jobs of comparable responsibility.
We here at the Fountain Valley News juggle the desire to post free breaking news online with providing a quality weekly print edition on which many of our longtime loyal subscribers depend. Although the world seems to turn a bit faster now than it did when this newspaper started in 1958, our regular readers can tell you that they learn things in every issue that they didn't find anywhere else.
They certainly didn't see any other news organizations reporting on the fact that the Fountain Walmarts and other stores had been overcharging their customers on city sales tax for much of 2020. While some details of how the Colorado Department of Revenue handled that continues to be a mystery, the fact remains that our numerous inquiries caused that particular problem to be corrected.
The bottom line is, local newspapers focus on their immediate communities in a way no one else can. We are dedicated to giving local individuals and organizations a voice. We are committed to attending those city council meetings. We will do what we can to help other small businesses. We will listen to your concerns, no matter how small. We are your neighbor, and we value your support as we try to carry on in these crazy, modern times.