From: Warren Ward
A week ago Sunday, something occurred that hasn’t happened in 26 years: there was no Republic newspaper waiting by my garage door. The change was well-explained in previous editions so I wasn’t surprised, but it still came as a bit of a shock.
There have been lots of negative social media comments about the reduced print delivery. In contrast, I’d like to share my appreciation for what the paper has provided during my quarter-century in Columbus. There’s always a reporter in attendance at City Council and School Board meetings; we don’t have to be there to learn what happened. The Republic is supportive of local
happenings like the free Exhibit Columbus projects and Hospice concert as well as events raising money for the arts like Cabaret at the Commons and Uncommon Cause. Who else is going to the county fair to report on those 4H projects? Who else is covering high school sports? The paper publishes property transfers so we know who our new neighbors will be and calendars so we know what’s happening around the area.
One of the themes on social media is that news should be “free,” i.e., how dare the paper charge for sharing something that can be had for nothing through search engines? All news articles originate somewhere, most often from our local paper. Stewart Brand famously said that “Information wants to be free” but people usually forget his next sentence: “Information also wants to be expensive”.
Newsgathering costs money. Putting out a paper requires a publisher to set the tone and make sure everyone gets paid every week. It requires an editor to assign stories to the several reporters who are at those meetings and on the phone, actually gathering the news. Photos must be taken. Copy must be edited and facts checked. Articles must be formatted for publication, whether in print (as this old man prefers) or electronically. Ads must be sold to connect local businesses to potential customers and support the paper. In my case, the last step is a woman who continues to get up very early twice a week to bring the finished product to my door. At The Republic, there are about 75 people involved in the process. None of them can work for free.
Would any of its readers be interested in doing so?
In recent years, several national papers in financial difficulties have been purchased by billionaires, allowing them to continue to publish. So far, no obvious editorial interference has appeared. Perhaps that’s the future of newspaper ownership. Maybe a local foundation or philanthropist will step up to “free the information” in Columbus. Sure, I wish The Republic was still printed seven days a week (just like I wish I could buy a pack of gum for a nickel and fill up my car for $5) but, at the end of the day, I’m glad that my local news resource is still available.