Local newspaper industry can thrive through community service

Terrance Thornton

North Valley News Editor Terrance Thornton

I am an eternal optimist and in that capacity I will tell you there is no better time then now to be a local newspaper journalist.

Yes, you read that correctly.

My optimism comes from a place that originates out of necessity. Over the past few years, I have seen newsrooms shrink from teams of dedicated journalists to one-man operations. But during those times with limited staff and diminished support from both the private and public sector I learned one thing: Community service is what this is all about.

Much of the philosophy I hear and read about revolves around policies that are best described as relics of the 20th Century. It seems much of today’s journalism world is based on audience development and that’s about it.

What a shame.

In my mind, modern journalism and the inception of the First Amendment was designed to be a way for Americans to be informed on the things going on around them and provided an avenue for free speech against tyranny, domestic and abroad.

I don’t think one can assume the act of journalism ought to be lucrative, because it should be thought of as a public service — a calling more than a career. Our purpose here at Independent Newsmedia is a lot different than what I see purported here in Phoenix and around the nation.

“Community service is the driving force behind Independent Newsmedia,” a plaque reads in each of our Arizona offices. “We are constantly in search of ways to improve the value and service offered to our readers and advertisers.”

I believe in that mission and the people who we are surrounding ourselves with — both internally and outside of our organization — believe in that mission too.  If you think you are one of the those people or work at an organization that adheres to our community service charge, give me a call at 623-445-2774 because I would like to learn how we can help each other thrive in the 21st Century marketplace.

Since the beginning of 2015 we at Independent Newsmedia have implemented what I think to be giant leaps forward in ways to better serve our communities here in the North Valley by launching new digital properties and accompanying E-newsletters.

Check out scottsdaleindependent.com and sign-up for our newsletter because our content is — or at least should be — important to citizens of Scottsdale. Our journalism focuses on issues we think are critical to our community, but our efforts are meaningless — if they don’t mean anything to you.

I encourage you to visit the site and then drop me a note telling me what you think — and more important, what else we can do to be of greater service to you and to our community. I also encourage you to use us — our print and digital products — to voice your opinions on community issues. Join the debate and participate in the discussion that will ultimately result in decisions that will impact you and your neighbors.

A healthy and intelligent debate is critical to a healthy democracy. We need more local voices from ordinary folks living in Scottsdale. Send them directly to me at tthornton@newszap.com or to scottsdaleindependent.com. I want them. All of them.

Sure, newspapers have struggled over the years because many have lost their identity and strayed from their primary purpose of serving their readers. A community still needs its own voice — and a good community newspapers is as vital today as it was 200 years ago.

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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