Among the numerous businesses disrupted by computers, the internet and social media is Yellow Pages. Once thick books chockfull of information, they are shells of their former selves.
I feel their pain, as our industry has been similarly impacted.
We received one of their solicitations in the mail (another disrupted business), and it appeared to be a misguided attempt, as it placed our proposed listing in the Home Improvement category.
Newspapers or publishing would be the top choices, certainly not home improvement, which would be reserved for places like hardware and lighting stores.
But the more I thought about it, the more I thought there might be something to this.
I believe they have accidentally stumbled across something that just might have some value.
Much has been written about the impacts of newspapers shrinking and closing.
In a recent article about the media desert that springs up when a town loses its paper, the city manager of a West Texas community remarked that participation in local elections had declined since the local publication shuttered.
Indeed, it has been known for years that newspaper readers are more informed about their communities and more likely to take part in the various aspects of community life.
So home improvement might just be the perfect category for newspapers, especially for community papers such as the Monitor.
Now I realize that I am mostly preaching to the choir, here, but let’s face it, even the choir needs a little preaching now and then.
Obviously if you are reading this you already get the value of a community newspaper. No one else covers the news that we do. If we were to disappear, the list of things you wouldn’t know would increase dramatically, and some of it could impact your life in negative ways.
And then there is the use of an actual newspaper in actual home improvement projects. You can line a bird cage, wrap up fish bones, and many old homes when torn down have revealed newsprint used as insulation.
I’m always looking for newspapers to under gird projects involving glue.
I can’t tell you how many times I have read a social media comment from someone wishing they had known about an event sooner. Guess what? It was in the local paper but not in the narrow band of information provided by social media.
That band becomes even more narrow if your primary reliance is on a cell phone. The term phone has become oxymoronic.
The dilemma is this: How do we convince your friends and neighbors that this is a valuable resource, and that their community would be much poorer without it?
We are still working on that, but any suggestions would certainly be welcomed.
Those who think they can get all their news from the internet or social media are sadly mistaken.
There is a certain level of news through various channels, but at the local level the local paper is pretty much it. And the lack of reliability and accountability via social media is well-documented.
As Abe Lincoln is quoted online: “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”