A View from the Cheap Seats
By Mike McClure
Stan “Whitey” Von Nieda is the oldest living alumnus of the National Basketball Association (NBA). How did I know that? Was it a question on Jeopardy! recently? No, not that I know of. I read an article on Facebook that ran in my hometown newspaper, the Ephrata Review (Ephrata, Pa.).
Unlike some, I don’t typically spend my time paging through my Facebook feed, but that story caught my eye. My dad, who owned one of the two sporting good stores in town (the Ephrata Sports Center), used to talk about Von Nieda and how he had once played in the NBA.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, given my profession, but I also used to spend quite a good bit of time reading the town’s newspaper when I lived there. Von Nieda, 97, had and still has a trivia column in the paper. I even used to have the Ephrata Review mailed to my house in Delmar, Del. in my bachelor days. (I also stole the idea for the This Week in Star History feature from the paper, though with 140 years of history to the Star’s 23, our section is a little smaller than the Review’s.)
I guess my point is that it doesn’t matter the form in which we receive the information, whether it’s through print editions, e-newspapers, websites, Facebook, or one of the many social media platforms I know nothing about and haven’t had the inclination to learn about, community newspapers still make an impact on their communities, as well as to people who used to live in those communities.
Despite the impending doom of print media, which I’ve been hearing about for most of the 20 years that I’ve been working in it, we’re still here and our readers are still reading our newspapers. Sure, the landscape has changed over the years. It’s been survival of the fittest, with some papers that existed 10 or 15 years ago going the way of the dinosaur, but the better community papers are still around and some are even thriving.
And, we’ve have to adapt over the years and offer other ways of seeing our stories and ads. The Stars even upgraded their websites recently, with paid e-newspapers coming later this year. But at the end of the day we’re doing what we’ve always done, reporting the community news that our readers want to read. If we don’t, we hear about it. If we do a good job, we hear about that too. We still very much rely on our readers to provide us with news and story ideas as well.
While the amount of competition for people’s attention and for business’ advertising dollars has grown, where else can you find local news about your town or section of the county or state all in one place? Certainly not in the daily newspapers or from community newspapers that cover other parts of the state, and not from other forms of media either. As far as advertising goes, radio ads can be skipped over with the push of the button and TV ads can be fast forwarded, especially in today’s day of delayed show watching. That’s not the case with newspapers. The ads are right there next to the story on the local school’s graduation or the photo of an area little leaguer.
You could Google who is the oldest living NBA alum or where is Wedding Cake Championship competitor Ebonie Carzo from (see page three of this week’s Stars), but Google wouldn’t tell you the full story.
I know this column is a little early for National Newspaper Week (Oct. 6-12), but if stores can start putting Christmas items out before Halloween, I can run this column now. After all, as far as I’m concerned every week should be National Newspaper Week.