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Column by Jim Clark

When I was a young lad growing up in northern New Jersey, my dad took the train to work every day. He’d ride to Weehawken, then catch the ferry for the city.
Using the reverse route every late afternoon, he always wanted something to do than just sit there on the return trip. Therefore, he bought a couple of newspapers.
He would get home and plop the New York Daily News and New York Journal-American on the table. Also, by that time, the Bergen Evening Record out of Hackensack, N.J., would have arrived.
I learned at a very young age to read newspapers. I enjoyed the sports in the News and Journal-American, but mostly I like leafing through the Record, because it gave me news about the area in which I lived. Even at a tender age, I instinctively knew the importance of that. I still do.
This is the 73rd annual National Newspaper Week, which is older than I am (but not by too much). It was designed to make people aware of the advantages of newspapers, even before the proliferation of television, and generations before the Internet.
Now more than ever, it’s important to honor that tradition and the constructive role newspapers play in the life of a community.
Technology and the world are changing these days at a feverish pace. Information is available at our fingertips in an instant. The opportunities for communication, discussion and opinion have never been greater.
Newspapers play an important role in distilling this great cacophony of information and providing sound and accurate context.
We help make sense of it all.
We provide readers with news and information they need to live informed and active lives. We offer a list of activities that will keep our readers active and give them the ability to take part in events that can make their stay in Ocala enjoyable. If you’re not sure of that, take a look at our “Happenings” or “Community Calendar.” The items are arranged by date, so you can refer to the paper all week and find something to do.
We offer businesses an opportunity to market their goods and services. We allow people to find places to live, places to work, places to eat, places to get medical help and a place to sell that couch that’s been in the basement.
Newspapers consistently and reliably provide the most up-to-date, accurate and important news. And our audiences recognize this, rating newspapers as the most trusted of all media forms in a recent Nielsen study. While 56 percent say they trust newspapers, 52 percent trust local television and only 37 percent trust social media.
In an area such as this, where social media is not as prolific as in other places, we feel those percentages are even higher here in favor of newspapers.
Newspapers have always been the cornerstone of our society, and that did not change with the digital revolution. Ever since the Philadelphia Evening Post first published the Declaration of Independence, our newspapers have continued to unite us as communities.
The Internet has changed the reading habits of some people, but many still prefer the actual print copy of the newspaper. They realize there are some things that are hard to find in cyberspace, but you can easily open the paper to the puzzle page, and find challenges there, to the opinion page, which you have the right to agree with or not, to the classified ads, to say nothing of some of the other local advertising, some of it in bright color. In our case, the newspaper can sit on your coffee table for a week, and still be relevant, and that’s a benefit to advertisers.
This, of course, is in addition to the regular news provided about the communities in which you live by dedicated columnists who gather and write the information.
So the next time someone tells you newspapers are dying, you’d be honest to tell them, “Not here.”
Your community weekly newspaper is alive and well. And we thank you for doing what you are doing right now … reading the news. That can help make you an important part of the area in which you live.
Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. Some of the material in this column was taken from the Newspaper Association of America.