Sunday is a day typically devoted to those micro-communities to which we all belong: family, church, school, good friends.
Few would question that U.S. readers share a connection to an "American" community, and the 24-hour news cycle guarantees that most of us will, sooner or later, become aware of our connection to the global community.
Situated somewhere between our micro-communities and the global community is the cherished opportunity to connect to that subset most of us think of when the word "community" is used.
The Tribune, New Albany's almost-daily newspaper, its sister (parent?) paper The Evening News, and the chronicle that calls Corydon home, The Democrat, are the only reliable sources for keeping our micro-communities attached.
As useful as the metropolitan daily is, it can hardly serve as a substitute for our local papers. Able to compete aggressively for advertising dollars because of its ownership by a vast (and distant) conglomerate (Gannett), The Courier-Journal and its subsidiary publications take no prisoners when it comes to maximizing their share of the advertising dollars available within the area.
Ad dollars are the driving force in making a newspaper better. Advertisers in a mass media (and make no mistake about it, newspapers are tools for mass marketing) need to know how widely disseminated their words and images will be. Circulation and readership are the key components, but the larger the market, the more costly the ads.
The diminution of local papers is a result of aggressive pricing for advertising space, but the end result is that advertisers seeking to reach a smaller segment of the market can get caught in a vicious whirlwind that deposits them in an Oz without alternatives.
As ad revenues dry up for local papers like ours, the resources for news coverage shrink. Staff positions are cut and editors become reporters, compositors, and more. Smaller staffs and budgets leave community newspapers without the resources to increase coverage or hire the best writers. Overworked editors are forced to plan less, train less, and edit less.
The lesser paper then becomes less desirable as a news source, reducing circulation even further, reducing advertising revenues even further, and stretching the resources of the paper to a point near breaking.
Publisher Carl Esposito operates the two near-dailies covering the communities closest to New Albany and has been creative in trying to make them economically viable.
This blogger has some background in the newspaper business. The criticisms of The Tribune you've read here were made with a full understanding of what's possible with limited resources, and we continue to see room for improvement.
We continue to encourage you to read The Tribune and The Evening News. Think about this: If the going ad rate is one that pays for a population from Bardstown to Seymour, how does the small independent business reach its customers. As an advertiser, I have little hope of drawing significant traffic from Madison, Ind. or Bardstown, Ky. But I may still have to pay for it at the same rate as a larger business.
But the most important reason for reading your local paper is to stay informed about your community, its people, and the government actions that will impact your quality of life.
A web log is no subsitute. A limited Web site is no substitute.
The Esposito papers are offering a special trial subscription rate this Spring. For about 42 cents an issue, you can try The Tribune for 13 weeks (78 issues by my calculations) and receive a logoed umbrella in appreciation. Call (812) 944-6481 to subscribe on a trial basis. I think you'll find the local paper offers you news you've been missing out on.
Today's paper offers another musing from that under-appreciated free-lance wordsmith, Terry Cummins. Check it out.
But the best single item in the paper comes from the syndicated column penned by Morton Marcus. This is not a column easily accessible online. It's only available in your local paper and its focus is on Indiana and its economy, including the politics of government policy.
Marcus today decries the discriminatory effects of Indiana tax policy. One glaring inequity is the state income tax system. Indiana is proud (?) of its flat rate, but Marcus asks "why?"
The income tax system is anything but flat. It is markedly regressive and tilted to reward homeowners over renters and the wealthy over the poor. Combined with other subsidies to homeowners, the young family trying to get a leg up or the older person unable to afford anything but a rental unit are each given a stiff shove by the state.
Marcus says, "...the Indiana individual income tax is neither simple nor equitable. It is a complex mess of special treatment based on arbitrary and inconsistent sentiment."
Read it today in The Tribune.