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This past July marked my 10th year with The Lebanon Enterprise.
And in those 10 years, things have changed drastically with this newspaper.
Actually, the word "drastically" doesn't even begin to describe the number of changes we have experienced here at the Enterprise.
Our heads are still spinning, to be honest.
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 each week. I know! I was just as surprised as you are. But, they do! 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.
Still don't believe me?
Ask Joe Strong and his sister, Amy, who were recently reunited with the man who received their father's heart almost 27 years ago. That might have never happened had the heart recipient's story not been told in The Courier Journal.
Newspapers help reunite people.
Newspapers tell people's stories.
Newspapers don't let us forget.
Just ask the family of Kara Tingle Rigdon who has depended on this newspaper to get the word out about Kara and the fact that, after more than two years, 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 9-year-old son, Austin, told the Enterprise in July.
Do newspapers still matter? Austin certainly thinks so.
Ask the family of Lebanon Police Officer David Ford, who was murdered in February of 2009. They lived through a highly publicized tragedy but were forever thankful for the stories and photos the Enterprise published after his funeral. They were also grateful for the ongoing coverage, which ended recently after David Ford's estranged wife, Tonya Ford, 39, was found guilty for his murder.
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.
Recently, Marion County Judge/Executive John G. Mattingly received a huge envelope in the mail filled with letters from Lebanon Middle School students thanking him and the magistrates for sponsoring Newspapers in Education. "Thank you for the newspapers. I am sure that we will use them a lot this year. 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 or in the pages of our Athletes of the Year 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 bring attention to important topics, such as autism awareness, the dangers of drinking and driving, school bullying, breast cancer awareness, the obesity epidemic... I could go on and on.
Still don't believe me?
Well, then, just ask the Turtleman!
We continue to get requests from people all over the country for our Turtleman edition. No other media has delved into the life of the Turtleman like we have at the Enterprise. And, it's paid off. I venture to say we will eventually sell out of the Turtleman edition.
Now, that's what I call "live action!"
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.