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Think tank offers encouraging words for rural newspapers
Small-town media can’t cover the big national stories the way their big city counterparts can, but they’ve got the edge when it comes to news their friends and neighbors really care about.
That holds true whether those stories are delivered over the airwaves, in digital form, dropped on your front porch or delivered in the mailbox.
Newspapers are adapting to changing times through internet delivery, but many still prefer to read their news or deliver their message in easily accessible, hard-copy form.
Al Cross, head of the Institute for Rural Journalism, recognizes the special role local newspapers play in their communities.
“I think there’s always going to be a demand for news of your locality,” Cross told Mary Kuhlman, of Public News Service Nebraska. “I think that journalism is essential for democracy, and rural communities, they deserve journalism — good journalism — too, and that people are always going to want the news of their locality.”
Rural residents have multiple shades and sources of national and world news at their disposal, but the more that news moves closer to home, the more the range of sources shrinks.
Cross attributes the shrinking number of rural newspapers as much to population loss as much as a shift in technology.
Rural papers, he told Kuhlman, concentrate on local news their readers can’t get anywhere else.
About 63 million Americans or 16 percent of the U.S. population live in rural areas like Southwest Nebraska. The Gazette and other area newspapers are proud of the role we play in keeping our communities alive and thriving.