I'm a journalist, so it's a given that I respect newspapers for the stories and news they provide each day. But let's be blunt. Newspapers of all sizes, by informing the community and presenting a first draft of history, also outline a path to prosperity.
Information is key to investing and pursuing relationships. The most useful details and analysis on the internet often expand upon or respond to newspaper reports. As an editor of an online publication, I suspect that the internet would struggle to inform without the world's rich supply of newspapers.
There is a reason newspaper journalists and their regular readers, even those who might earn relatively low salaries, tend to live comfortably and happily. They stay informed, learning to detect value and avoid risks. They minimize unpleasant surprises by quickly discovering which managers in their community are likely competent and which are inefficient bullsh--ters. Newspaper readers come to understand community trends and discern which accomplishments, whether their own or from others, are a result of good luck versus hard work. By balancing a range of opinions and reports, these readers practice critical thinking on a daily basis.
Reading about a community, learning multiple points of view about every aspect of life, is invaluable before making what is for most the largest purchase they will make - their home. Newspapers offer insights about community schools, businesses, resources, courts, governance, economic climate, art and culture, crime, opinions and values and so much more.
City schools generally have a reputation for low test scores and inadequate resources - the median income for families in NHPS is just under $36,000 - but this writer was passionate about his high school, the opportunities available in the city including enrollment in college classes and the rich diversity of the student body that delivered daily lessons in motivation, resilience and the power of education not readily found in textbooks.
Though my son was in third grade, that opinion essay exposed a perspective that shaped our family's decisions on education for years to come. My son, like that guest columnist, attended New Haven Public Schools, thriving and going on to attend Yale to study biology and later degrees in mechanical and civil engineering. While one can never be certain about choices not taken, the teachers and staff were caring, and I'm confident he could not have done better in a suburban setting.
Newspapers accounts likewise shaped my decisions on purchasing homes as well as selecting graduate school (an article in the Anchorage Daily News about Harvard’s Kennedy School), investments (the Wall Street Journal and Boston Business Journal), contractors, activities, and more (thank you, the Boston Globe, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Lansing State Journal and Guilford Courier). With newspapers, I have discovered ideas for decorating, cooking, reading, and preparing for any sort of event at home or work. A police blotter item from The Daily Sentinel triggered the idea for my first novel.
A good newspaper saves readers money, lots of money, and I'm grateful. The media - especially the New York Times and the major broadcasters - are not an enemy for the American people, anything but. But the media do threaten the charlatans and fraudsters in any community. Journalists, covering the police blotter or the highest levels of government, learn this time and time again.
Newspaper readers typically don't have to be warned about those who issue blanket warnings against journalists and, for that matter teachers, librarians, scientists, and others who inform and educate. The fraudulent can't afford to let their marks analyze details or think for themselves.
Photo of the couple by an unknown photographer in Hungary and the engraving by W. Taylor, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Wellcome Images.