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The newspaper still matters

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The newspaper industry continues to change, but the important role newspapers play in their communities does not

By Stevie Lowery

This week, every household in the county will be getting a copy of The Lebanon Enterprise.
To some of you, that’s nothing new. You are a loyal subscriber, and we appreciate you more than you know. You are why we do this. You are our most valued customer.
But, there are others who, for one reason or another, have stopped subscribing to the Enterprise. Maybe you had to make some cuts in your budget. Or, maybe it’s something you just keep forgetting to do. And, in a few rare cases, you might be mad at us (or maybe just me). We wrote something you didn’t agree with, perhaps. Whatever the case may be, I ask that you give us another try. I can assure you there is no other news source in this community that is going to give you what we do every week.
This week we feature five of the most interesting people in Marion County, nominated by you – our readers. We were thrilled by the number of nominations we received, and we plan on doing this again next year. We enjoy highlighting the interesting people in this community, and there are plenty of them.
But, that’s just a taste of what we deliver to you every week. And we deliver it well. That’s not just my opinion, however. The Kentucky Press Association recently recognized the Enterprise as the best large weekly newspaper for its advertising excellence. And, for the third year in a row, The Lebanon Enterprise was deemed one of the top two best large weekly newspapers in the state for its editorial product.
We take pride in what we do. We take it personally. And, we want the Enterprise to not only be something you want but something you need.
Below is a portion of a column I wrote in October of 2012, and I felt it was appropriate to republish it this week. It sums up how I feel about this newspaper and the industry in general. In short, the newspaper still matters.

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This year marks the 12th year I’ve been at The Lebanon Enterprise. And in those 12 years, things have changed drastically with this newspaper. But, there is one thing that hasn't changed.
Newspapers still matter.
Don't believe me?
Come hang out with me during a week when I make a mistake in the land transfers. Believe it or not, people read those things in our public record. And, when there is a mistake you can bet someone is going to call me on it. And, I'm glad they do. Because, unlike other types of media (television, radio, etc) we print corrections in our newspaper.
Yes, newspapers still matter.
Newspapers tell people's stories.
Newspapers don't let us forget.
Just ask the family of Kara Tingle who has depended on this newspaper to get the word out about Kara and the fact that she is still missing. She was last seen on July 17, 2010. She has two young children who miss her terribly. "If somebody had my mommy, I'd ask them to give her back," Kara's 11-year-old son, Austin, told the Enterprise.
Do newspapers still matter? Austin certainly thinks so.
For families who have lost loved ones, newspapers matter a great deal.
The newspaper is the only place where they can have a lasting memory of their loved one. Families take great care in having obituaries published in the local newspaper. Obituaries are often the first thing many people read in the news each day and may be the last word written about a person's life.
Indeed, newspapers still matter.
Just ask hometown soldiers stationed overseas that still keep up with hometown news via our web site. "I just wanted to impart my thanks on to you and your staff for maintaining the Enterprise website," a soldier wrote to me. "It keeps all of us displaced Marion Countians informed on what is going on back home."
And, believe it or not, young people still read the newspaper.
It’s not uncommon for Marion County Judge/Executive John G. Mattingly to receive thank you letters from students thanking him for sponsoring the Newspapers in Education program. "Thank you for the newspapers. They will help us learn about what is happening in our community," one student wrote.
Encouraging our young people to read... yes, newspapers definitely matter.
And, on that note, ask local students who are overjoyed when they see their photos in the newspaper for awards they have received at school. Then, ask those students' parents who have undoubtedly cut their child's photo out of the newspaper and put it on the refrigerator for all to see. Ask them if they think the newspaper is important. I bet they do.
Ask any school superintendent if newspapers are important. Often times, we are the only media reporting on local schools, test scores, etc.
Ask local athletes who become overnight celebrities when their photo appears on the front page of the sports section. That's more than just scrapbook material, people. That's making memories that will last a lifetime.
Yes, newspapers matter.
Sometimes newspapers have to take a stand on their opinion pages and state the obvious... something many people are afraid to do for one reason or another. And, in small towns, that can cost the editorial staff a friend or two. But, at the end of the day, newspapers have a responsibility to be the watchdogs for their communities. And, while stating the obvious might not always be the most popular thing to do, it needs to be done nonetheless. And newspapers do it.
Newspapers matter.
In all seriousness, while there are people out there who claim the newspaper industry is dying, we couldn't feel more alive. And we continue to do what's most important - reporting the news - good and bad - in our communities.
That's something that has never, nor will ever, change.