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Saving Small Town Newspapers

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The homelessness series concluded with a registration-required public forum. The forum included 170 in attendance, with more than 20 people speaking.

Newspapers currently do have some things going for them. Take the Daily Hampshire Gazette, for example. The paper features active sports and opinion sections. Opinion pages generally have a "letters to the editor" section, as does the Gazette. Taking the time to read opinion articles known as "op-eds" enlighten the reader's mind, especially if it's on unfamiliar subjects. In turn, the reader of the op-ed will be exposed to a well-reasoned solution to some type of local or state problem.

A newspaper feeding its readers same-old, same-old can only stomach so much of it for so long. What about introducing a more visual way of telling a story? A new focus on video journalism could bring some much needed assistance to an otherwise bland industry.

Another idea is to give the humble town newspaper a department for investigative work. Give the audience who craves serious, in-depth investigative work something to chew on. Finally, using the editorial type of article yields more strengths than many newsrooms realize for readership, especially on pressing, local issues.

The newspaper industry has two paths it can pursue. One is the continued, status quo of spiraling downward and cutting costs. The other is pursuing innovation in video, re-invigorating investigative work the editorial style article, and other innovations each paper can uniquely create. It's an essential decision that is up to America's newspaper publishers to decide the fate of such an important industry.

Robert Weiner, a former Amherst resident and political activist, was a Clinton and Bush White House spokesman, amond other politicans. Zachary Filtz is a senior policy analyst for Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.

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