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Community newspapers not dead, association declares

The National Newspaper Association kicked off its second 125 years in Omaha, Neb. this week by proclaiming that news of the death of newspapers is greatly exaggerated.

"Community newspapers are the heart and soul of America. We are in our communities and we have no plans to leave. We are not blogs, but we have blogs. We are not websites, but we have websites. We are whole, real newspapers in print and other media and we continue to serve," said Elizabeth Parker, co-publisher of Recorder Newspapers Inc. Parker became NNA's 128th president on Oct. 2.

The association pronounced the recession "gone but not forgotten," and said the state of community newspapers has been affected by the economic malaise of main street. Though the recession may be over, most communities have not shaken off the aftereffects.

But community newspapers are defiantly pronouncing the "newspapers are dead" shibboleth of the electronic world to be a fallacy.

"Readers are changing. Markets are changing. But local journalism is as much needed as ever. We are the ones who provide the glue that holds our communities together. We are the trusted voice. It is in our pages that early political careers are born, and public service is held to account. We inform voters on elections. We edit and vet the news so people can decide what is important. We are the professionals at the foot of the mountain of information-but it is the news in our communities that forms the base of American democracy," she said.

Parker said NNA was forming a marketing council of newspaper executives to carry its word to the industry and to be the eyes and ears of the association across the community newspaper industry. It will develop and promote marketing campaigns to remind the nation that real newspapers are not dead.

"NNA enjoyed a productive and prosperous time on the University of Missouri campus. That move helped us reach a new level. Now we are reintegrating our operation so we can focus on core public policy issues and NNA's important new mission of educating America that community newspapers are alive and continuing to serve," Parker said. NNA has awarded its management contract to American PressWorks Inc. in Falls Church, VA. It will maintain an operations center in the heartland, moving into offices in downtown Columbia, MO, at the first of the year.

NNA represents more than 2,000 community newspapers-weekly and small daily newspapers across America. It was founded in 1885.

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