By Dennis Hetzel, Executive Director
It’s National Newspaper Week, and it’s still not too late to use this as an opportunity to remind readers of the importance of local newspapers in their communities.
The ONA has links and resources to help you take note. Material you can use to promote National Newspaper Week (NNW) is still available at www.nationalnewspaperweek.com.
If you don’t have time to do anything elaborate, you could write a story or column similar to the one the Mount Vernon News published this week by reporter Rhonda Bletner. I was particularly moved by the section in which Publisher Kay Culbertson, who started at the paper in 1973, describes the commitment her family has to their community. This is something I see throughout Ohio as I meet our owners and publishers.
If ONA members are interested in comments from yours truly, just let me know. Or, you are free to re-publish the quotes of mine that Rhonda used in her story. Here it is:
National Newspaper Week celebrates community news
By RHONDA BLETNER
News Staff Reporter
MOUNT VERNON–This week marks the observance of National Newspaper Week and this year’s theme “Newspapers–The Cornerstone of Your Community” aptly describes the Mount Vernon News.
“Throughout Ohio and America, newspapers still matter. And they matter a lot,” said Dennis R. Hetzel, executive director of the Ohio Newspaper Association. “By far, newspapers generate the most accurate, credible and useful information that citizens want and need in their local communities. And imagine how lost search engines, local bloggers, Facebook and hundreds of other content outlets would be without the newspaper-produced articles that generate hundreds of thousands of links.”
Hetzel noted, “National Newspaper Week is the perfect time to reflect upon the importance of newspapers and support them. Ohio’s newspaper organizations continue to innovate and evolve, and we plan to serve our communities for many, many years to come.”
Kay Culbertson, the publisher at the Mount Vernon News since 1992, began her career at the paper in the dark room in 1973.
One of her priorities is the special edition, Newspapers in Education. “We, in cooperation with our community,put newspapers in schools. Teachers use the newspapers as tools for learning,” she explained.
“It’s important to get children involved in reading the newspaper. The news will play a tremendous influence in their lives whether they know it or not.”
Her late husband, Bill Culbertson, was a fourth generation newspaper publisher and she feels that family history is a significant tie to the community.
“We are one of the very few family-owned, independent newspapers left in Ohio,” she said. “That local ownership helps us focus on local news and the people in the news.
The Mount Vernon News represents the Knox County’s community cornerstone. Residents share their lives in it’s pages as they announce anniversaries, births, engagements, weddings, generational news, milestone birthdays, church news, garden club news, and local sports—all for free.
The way the News represents the community is evolving, as it is with newspapers worldwide. The Mount Vernon News has had an online edition since 2003. The e-edition of the paper, the subscriber-based online News, has approximately 1,000 daily users; and the website has over 100,000 visitors a month from all over Ohio and the U.S.
“It means they’re interested in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” said News web editor Josh Morrison. “We have the addition of video, more space, and the photo gallery, but in the end we’re still telling the same story but in a different medium.”
Newspapers have proven they can function in print, on websites, in digital partnerships and as part of the social media scene,” said Newspaper Association of America president and CEO Caroline Little.
She added, “But they also can do what no one else can do. We are at the heart of our communities. We generate the information and track the local developments that are vital for an informed, engaged citizenry. We offer clarity and perspective, and we provide content that our readers can trust.”
Bob and Vicky Coleman have subscribed to the Mount Vernon News for approximately 30 years and she think it’s important to keep in touch.
“I like getting it, especially when my kids were smaller, said Vicky Coleman. “Now I look more at the obituaries and events, and one day Bob asked, ‘Do you think we need to still get it.’”
“I said, ‘Yes, I think we do,’” she replied to him.
She added, “I also like to read about the kids who my kids went to school with and see what they’re doing. Some of them are getting married.”
Carl and Sharon Holmes moved to Knox County from Michigan in 1976 and Sharon said, “We took the paper right away because we needed to know about what was going on. We did take the Columbus Dispatch for a time but I don’t know those people, and I love the special sections in the News because I read about people I know.”
She has also been one of the people in the News. Holmes has been performing as Tessie the Clown for 37 years and most recently was a part of Bladenburg’s last day of school festivities, to the delight of the children.