Column: Catching up on the news

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on April 27, 2009

After spending last week in Florida visiting with family, I settled back into the office Monday morning and started catching up on a week’s worth of papers.

A bank inside the St. Charles Jewel-Osco was robbed. Unemployment in Kane County now is at more than 10 percent. Amstadt’s Finer Foods in Batavia is set to soon change owners. Dennis Hastert’s son, Elburn resident Ethan Hastert, is considering a run for Congress. Spring cleanup day will go on in St. Charles. And Pam Otto says I have worms.

Whew. It was a busy week. And I must say I enjoyed looking through the papers with fresh eyes, having not been a part of the creation process. It gave me some ideas for the future and ways to improve the present.

Similarly, I like to check out local newspapers I haven’t seen before whenever I travel.

I love to look for the small and big differences and similar themes that can be found in newspapers across our country and the world, and I especially love to find the peculiar among the features.

For example, one of the weeklies in Florida has a “police mugshot of the week,” something I had never seen before – for obvious reasons.

Most of all, though, I love to see that despite the economy and everything else, newspapers still are surviving everywhere and even thriving in some places.

A St. Charles East High School student e-mailed me the week before I left for Florida wanting to ask me a few questions for a paper she was writing for school. The topic: Why newspapers are dying.

I groaned a little when I read that. I hate to hear people say that newspapers are dying – mostly because it isn’t true. Are we changing? Certainly. Dying? Hardly. Unless people suddenly decide they don’t want to know anything about the world around them – unlikely – there always will be a place for newspapers.

As long as our readers want and are willing to pay for a paper version of The Chronicle, we will continue to give them exactly that. Personally, I love the feel of newspaper and much prefer it to reading stories online. But if at some point in the future our readers’ wants and needs change and they demand to receive their information in a different format, whatever that might be in the future, we’ll have no choice but to give them their information in a new way.

What we do is provide the news, answer your questions about the community, and tell you stories about your neighbors. In the end, how you end up receiving that information is completely up to you. It’s up to us to get you the information the way you want it.

I called the student who e-mailed me about her paper and spoke with her for a while. I answered all her questions and, hopefully, she got a good grade. Her final question to me was if I had any final thoughts on the subject. (A common questions among reporters; we might have a budding journalist here.)

This was my final thought: As long as a thirst for solid, informed stories about the world around us exists, news providers will continue to survive. Before newspapers were town criers. Before town criers were bards. Who knows what form news delivery will take in the future. In the end, a newspaper isn’t paper and ink. It’s stories and ideas and information. And those don’t die.

Joe Grace is the editor of The Chronicle. You can write to him at jgrace@kcchronicle.com or call him at 630-845-5368.

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