They are courageous. When that difficult story comes along, the one where they must hold up a mirror to the town and point out an ugly spot, they’re not afraid to tell the unvarnished truth. And they do that because they know that the truth is what makes the town and its people stronger.
They lead. Perhaps the town needs a nudge in the right direction. There’s a chance for growth — if the people are willing to take it. The publisher and editor will take up the cause and help to generate the momentum needed for positive change.
They appreciate core values. They’re too busy for office politics, and they really don’t care for the gossip and back-biting that goes on at larger newspapers. They have no desire to go write for The New York Times or The Washington Post because they realize they are making a positive difference right where they are.
They treat each other like family. From the publisher on down, everyone on the staff at a small newspaper is “family.” They know each other’s kids. They talk about the things that bring them together. They trust each other. And when one of them is hurting, they care for each other.
Small newspapers are part of the lifeblood of their town. Whether it’s a report on a hotly-argued county tax increase or a few sentences about a party for a bride-to-be, the people at a small newspaper take the time to get all the facts and figures correct, and all the names of the partygoers right. And ... they work hard to give advertisers the service and support they need to be successful.
A town without the bright, dedicated people who work at a small newspaper is a town that struggles.
Ed Henninger is with Henninger Consulting of Rock Hill, S.C.