As we set out to proudly participate in National Newspaper Week, we celebrate “Real Newspapers … Real News!” At the Mount Vernon News, we have a lot to reflect upon this week — both internally and outside the walls of 18 E. Vine St., Mount Vernon.
Today, the Mount Vernon News is the lone printed daily newspaper in Knox County. Actually, it’s been that way since 1935, when the Democratic Banner and the Republican News merged. Along the way, communities like Centerburg, Fredericktown and, occasionally, Danville, offered weekly or monthly papers. Alas, these smaller papers are no longer printed. That leaves a lot of responsibility on our shoulders to get into these communities — your communities — and report the news — the “real” news. But we are up for the challenge.
While our banner may read “Mount Vernon,” we understand that our readership is much wider than the boundaries of the city limits. We continue to develop ways to get more news from the smaller communities in Knox County and will be rolling out some exciting opportunities to do just that later this month.
As the country continues to sift between what is “real news” and what is “fake news,” we believe we continue to prove that we have positioned ourselves to be a credible source for news by standing behind our experienced reporters for local content and relying on the global trust in The Associated Press for state, national and world reporting. We’ve done this quietly with little self-promotion or fanfare.
When National Newspaper Week started in 1940, it grew from an effort to promote appreciation for California newspapers. In response to a call for support in the statewide effort, South Antelope Press Publisher Fred B. Hitchings took the approach that the newspaper industry was a necessary public institution and that communities are stronger because of newspapers, and we shouldn’t hide our worth.
“Permit me to remark that it is now time, and has been for a long time, for the publisher to divest himself of the cloak of modesty, shake off this inferiority complex,and tell the cockeyed world that we are more than it ever dreamed,” he wrote.
The value of print journalism has changed since 1940. I’d say it’s even more important in a world of 24-hour news cycles that hit on the topic of the moment and then quickly roll on to the next. There are no 30-second sound clips in the newspaper, leaving readers with more questions than answers — the big stories are given the time and space needed to educate readers on the facts. Whether it’s the information needed to make educated decisions on Election Day; the details to a fundraiser; statistics from Friday night’s high school football games; or the stories of people like Chuck Dudgeon or Steve Hatfield in today’s edition of Senior Lifestyles — it’s the relevant information about your community — our community — that makes the News different and makes us a valuable and worthy local commodity.
As we continue to watch news conglomerates grow to excessive levels by swallowing up daily papers in large gulps, it is refreshing that the Mount Vernon News continues to be independently owned and operated. Decisions are all made at 18 E. Vine St., by a publisher and supporting staff that lives in Knox County, that is as affected by the news we report as you — our valued readers. While this might not mean much to the average reader, to me, the managing editor, it equates to the News being locally accountable to our neighbors, the people we talk to in the grocery store or at church, the school administrators or city council members we question. By being grounded and connected to Knox County individually, and as a news organization, we are graced with the opportunity and privilege to find the “real” news that matters to all of us.
Samantha Scoles is the managing editor of the News, and can be reached at 740-397-5333, ext. 248; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.