When televisions became popular in the 1950s, media observers fell over each other to predict the looming death of radio.
I mean, who would want to sit and listen to a static box when they could turn on a different appliance and not only hear what was being said, but see it too?
Yet, radio found a way to make it out of the 1950s, and remain popular even as we near the end of 2017.
What saved radio was the simple realization that it was more than just a medium to share episodic stories that would make better television. Radio could play music. Radio was far more portable than television — and could even go in your car. Radio was a great way to enjoy something while your eyes were needed elsewhere.
Now that the internet has taken over the world, many have proclaimed the age of newspapers dead. That we are simply dinosaurs in denial of what’s so obvious to everyone else.
When many of my non-newspaper friends learned I was coming to The Riverdale Press, they thought I was crazy. Do I not see all the newspapers shutting down, including one I spent several years with in Florida, The Tampa Tribune?
Of course I see those reports. And it’s sad for me to see once great newspapers disappear off the face of the Earth.
But just like how radio needed a course correction or two after the introduction of the television, newspapers are going through their own adjustments.
The fact is that while news out of Washington, Albany and the rest of the world might be easily accessible through a quick Google search, finding news about your neighborhood is not so easy.
We get so caught up with everything that’s happening in places like the Trump White House, we forget that some of the most important news — and some of the decisions that affect us most — take place right here in our very own neighborhoods.
We don’t exactly have a habit of going online to find our neighborhood news. In fact, we generally don’t even think about it until we see a newspaper in our mailbox, scan the headlines, and are like, “Oh, wow! I didn’t even know!”
There are so many communities in the Bronx and in New York City as a whole that don’t have their own community papers. While there might be regional and citywide publications — there is only so much attention they can pay on your particular neighborhood, and trust me, it will never be enough.
I’m obviously a bit biased, but having a strong community newspaper results in a strong community. Having trained journalists question everything, hold government officials accountable, and bring light to situations that would otherwise be in the dark — that’s something you never want to lose.
I grew up in a small town in rural Pennsylvania. I haven’t lived there in a couple decades, but my family is still there, and it was my hometown, so I still care what’s happening.
And it’s not good. The population has dropped some 40 percent since I left. Taxes are higher than they should be. Costs to run schools are well above state averages. And a typical quarterly water bill for a single-family home is close to $300.
The housing market is worse — my mother bought a three-bedroom house for about as much as you can buy a family car for.
The people in my hometown are wonderful people, who work hard and live to do great things. But they suffer from lack of good community news coverage, so no one asks the hard questions. No one holds officials accountable. No one brings light to situations that would otherwise be dark.
You’re not always going to like everything you read in your community paper, but I hope you’re happy this particular community has a paper — one that is fighting for you.
I’m so excited that many in the community are rediscovering how important their local news here is, and it will only continue.
So pick up the paper. The news is waiting.
The author is editor of The Riverdale Press.