The power of the community newspapers

Sep 1, 2021


President, Modulist

I remember the first time that my name appeared in our weekly hometown newspaper. I was a teenager, and the local paper asked me to write a 500-word story about my experience attending Minnesota’s American Legion Boys State event.

Despite the fact that the story was written by an unimaginative teen and thus dry as toast, my mom was so proud that she wanted to get her hands on every copy of the paper she could find. The clipping of the article then was promptly mailed to every relative she could think of, and most importantly, the clipping was prominently pinned to our kitchen fridge for all to see!

Later, as I grew more active in sports, speech and other activities, each successive newspaper clipping that mentioned my name would replace the previous one on the fridge, and more clippings were mailed.

Today, I still have an entire shoebox of those clippings that she kept, for which I am eternally grateful.

I’m sure many of you have similar stories you could share. And your readers could, too.

That is the power of the community newspapers: They share the biggest moments of our lives with the entire community. And they have been doing so for generations.

There is just a special, visceral experience in being able to clip out that article that mentions your loved one’s name, whether it’s a high school sports story, a birth announcement, a wedding announcement, a retirement announcement or, yes, even an obituary. It seems our life’s biggest milestones just become more “official” when they’ve been shared with all of our friends and neighbors in the community newspaper.

Social media platforms project the idea they can replace the local paper by allowing you to share news with your closest connections. But what those platforms can’t do is share the news with your entire community — the teachers, scout masters and church youth groups leaders who all shared in watching you grow.

If you are not publishing those birth and wedding announcements, or those birthday and retirement party announcements, or those heartfelt tributes about those loved ones who pass, how else will all of the people you’ve come across in your lifetime know?

Community news such as this binds a community together. Community news such as this actually does write the first draft of history in our communities. And where else can it appear for perpetuity, other than your local newspaper?

This is what we'll be covering in the flash session, Driving Contributed Content to Thrive (obits, milestones, business announcements) at the upcoming NNAF Annual Convention & Trade Show. Please come join us for an exciting discussion about user-generated content!

Devlyn Brooks is the president of Modulist, a media services company that specializes in the processing of user-generated, paid content submissions for any media type, regardless of size, frequency or distribution platform. Our tagline is “Publish life’s stories,” and that is our mission.

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