Count ways to love, appreciate newspapers
Sanda Baucom Hight
Like many families in the ‘50s and ‘60s, our family shared newspapers. My family subscribed to a morning paper out of Raleigh, while our next-door grandparents took the Wilson Daily Times, which was delivered in the afternoon.
Late in the day, one of us children would routinely walk across the field, the morning paper in hand, and exchange papers with our grandparents so that both families could get local, state, national and world news from two different papers.
We all loved the two papers, but Granddaddy and Daddy especially craved the news, sports, comics and political commentary.
Our newspapers and the conversations about them were a thread that ran true in our lives.
And so it is with many families today, although in the digital age, newspapers have evolved, along with almost everything else.
National Newspaper Week, which begins on the first Sunday in October each year, reminds us of why we still need, love and appreciate newspapers and those who produce them.
Since the early 18th century, newspapers have contributed to the development of our nation. In a day with no radio, TV or internet, the newspaper was crucial to informing citizens about political and social development, and they provided a format for debate and forming opinions.
The first newspapers were a sideline of the printing business but developed into a separate entity.
So why do we still need, love and appreciate newspapers, whether in print or digital format?
First, they report news across the globe quickly and accurately most of the time, an arduous and often tricky task.
Clever commentary in newspapers can help us form opinions about current issues, and they sometimes make us stick to our original opinions even more fervently. Most of us understand that disagreement and debate are healthy and necessary in our society.
When people say they saw our name or picture in the paper, we hope the news reported our good, not our bad, behavior. Most people love to see their picture in the paper for a positive reason.
Reading the obituary page ignites sympathy and action. Without obituary listings, many of us might miss opportunities to reach out to friends, relatives and acquaintances in times of grief and need.
Athletic teams, coaches and especially budding young athletes rely on the sports section to report and comment on their accomplishments and to build community pride, excitement and wholesome competition. Most of us love to read about and see images of local and national sports and to follow our favorite teams. Newspapers make all this possible.
Over the years, many brides and grooms have delighted in a lovely picture and a description of the wedding and accompanying activities. Family archives rely on newspapers to document such blessed events.
Do you need to look for a job or for prospective employees? Do you need to buy or sell something? Newspapers are still helpful, although there are alternative ways these days for such searches.
Some people feel that the day is not complete without comics and word puzzles in their papers, and many people rely on them to keep their mind sharp.
Advertising helps support the paper’s operations as it informs readers about shopping opportunities, special events and ways to help nonprofit organizations.
Newspapers document history. One family in our circle of friends has passed along a paper published in mid-April 1865 that reports Lincoln’s assassination in the largest headline font available. Can you imagine how that family feels about that newspaper and the efforts they go to in order to preserve it?
Although we recycle most of our newspapers or use them to line bird cages, what we have read or seen in them never really goes away. Much of it is recorded in our minds, and it can be retrieved on the internet or in a library.
Let us celebrate National Newspaper Week and continue to love and appreciate newspapers and those who produce them. Let us value them; let us refrain from calling them hard names.
They fill a niche in our society’s need for knowledge, opinion, entertainment, routine and stability.
Did you know that newspaper pages make charming and cheap wrapping paper, especially when it is tied up with a big red bow?
And finally, any discussion of the importance of newspapers needs to reflect on Thomas Jefferson’s famous quotation about newspapers: “If I had to choose between government without newspapers and newspapers without government, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter.”
Jefferson would probably still hold this opinion about the importance of newspapers if he were here today.
Sanda Baucom Hight is retired from Wilson County Schools after serving as an English teacher and is currently a substitute teacher in Wilson County.
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