I had planned to write on another subject for this week, but after seeing the new look and format of the Sun Advocate it seemed appropriate to talk about newspapers and their role in society.
To write this I am borrowing in part from my guest column of August 1990 that appeared in the Sun Advocate so I hope no one objects to my plagiarizing from myself.
Here's an old three liner: One person says to another, Good morning, the second person responds, what's good about it, the first person responds, try missing one.
This analogy can be applied in many other contexts - like your favorite newspaper. We take our newspapers for granted. They are always there when we want them - regardless of the weather or natural disasters. When can you recall a newspaper not being available, except in the rare instance of a strike by a big city newspaper?
Newspapers have been available in some forrn or another since ancient times, and have served to inform the public. True, T.V. and weekly magazines supplement the newspapers, but only in a limited way.
The dictionary defines a newspaper as "A printed publication at regular intervals, usually daily or weekly, and commonly containing news, comments, features and advertising". The newspaper in it's modern form began in 1566 when the Venetian government issued written news sheets and exhibited them in the streets. Anyone was allowed to read them on payment of a small coin called a gazette. Still earlier, at least 700 B.C., the so called Jewish newspaper of Isaiah's day was regularly published. That fact wasn't discovered until 1880 in a rocky aqueduct of the pool of Siloam in Jerusalem.
The theme of a large national daily paper syndicate states: "Give the people light and they will find their own way". It is, therefore, evident that newspapers have had an active role in informing the public for at least 2700 years.
Newspapers also serve a vital role in informing the public about legal and economic happenings. Each edition of the paper carries legally necessary announcements of notices, bids solicited, tax dates and other items which the public must be informed about. News about proceedings, births, deaths, and current public notices are also essential to keep the public informed.
Where would we be without the advertisements from local retail stores and other businesses such as automobile dealers and service industries? Our local newspaper regularly carries over 50 separate categories of specific advertisement in each issue. Local and national news of significance, sporting events, and numerous other categories of happenings people need to know about to form opinions.
When I was in Jerusalem last year, I was very surprised to find a large cosmopolitan newspaper printed in English in Israel. The Jerusalem Post is much like the New York Times, stock quotations and the like, and it made me feel a bit more comfortable in a somewhat strange environment where English is not the state language.
I believe our local newspaper does an excellent job of reporting accurately the significant news events, has thoughtful editorials and in general is one of the best small town bi-weekly papers. As in so many other areas affecting our lives, we take newspapers for granted, expecting it to be there when we want it or need it. Let us hope it will always be there.
Don't try missing one.