Such a wonderful time of the year! We get the opportunity, if we are wise, to look back at the year behind us, evaluating the choices we have made, and then start fresh with the blank page of the new year.
In 2016, The Citizen will celebrate its 40th anniversary. The changes we have seen over those years is somewhat mind-boggling, mostly due to technology. In 1976, we typed stories on typewriters, then turned them over to a typesetter, who used a machine the size of your standard bathroom to reproduce those words on special paper. The fonts were chosen from strips of film that were inserted into the machine. The many, many pieces of paper that went into a single issue of the newspaper were stuck to yet other, larger, pieces of paper. With layout complete, and hopefully nothing sliding away, the pages were driven to a printer.
Photographs were taken on film, which had to be developed, then sized for the spot on the page. The printer would take pictures of the pictures, essentially, and insert them into the layout.
Everything was in black and white, because color was a limited capability for any newspaper, and a time-consuming task reserved for special occasions, such as the holidays.
Today, of course, we hardly see any paper, and film has been gone for many, many years. The technology involved in creating a physical newspaper is light years from what it was in 1976. It requires a different skill set, and knowledge of specialized software we never dreamed possible 40 years ago.
In some ways, however, little has changed, and technology has provided many with a false sense of confidence when it comes to transmitting information to the people who need it. Reporting the news is done with skills learned and practiced, and at its core has changed little over the centuries. Styles may change, but the ability to report the news is perhaps an innate talent.
Many people today get their news from Web sites and social media, unfortunately with little regard for bias, reliability of sources, or even English grammar, for that matter. It’s easier, of course, to wait for the news to pop up on your feed or timeline and just click a link on the screen of your cell phone. We all do it. Some of us, hopefully, take a little extra time to make sure that the news we are getting is just that – news, not satire or propaganda or rumor or innuendo.
Even more deceptive is the lure of social media advertising. People start new businesses thinking that the only thing they need is a Facebook page. People go out of business thinking the same thing, and wondering what happened. Social media can be a valuable asset in a broader marketing campaign, but it must be considerably less than the entirety of any plan for a successful business.
That being said, we are thrilled with the success of our own Web site, thecitizen.us, which gets tens of thousands of hits every week. And for us, our electronic presence will be a major focus in the coming year. We will continue to adapt and improve the ways that we deliver the news.
What will not change is our fundamental purpose of delivering the accurate information that you need to assess the world around you, that part of the world closest to you. We will continue to work with local businesses on effective marketing through advertising, both in print and on-line. We will do what we do best, give you a snapshot of your hometown and the people who live and work there.
We look forward to starting our 40th year with you, and hope that you will join us in looking back and moving forward in 2016.