Who needs a newspaper? More folks then ever during anxious times

A special edition of the Daily News following the Northridge earthquake that struck Los Angeles on Jan. 17, 1994. (Los Angeles Daily News file photo)

 

So, how long have we been together now? Twenty, 30 years, more? I know it’s been a long time, and I want to thank you for your loyalty to me, your local paper.

Newspapers are celebrating 220 years in America soon — the first daily newspaper being Alexander Hamilton’s New York Post in 1801 – and we never would have made it without your support. You’ve kept a great tradition alive.

When you needed to find out what was going on in your community, you turned to me. When you needed a car, an apartment, or wanted to buy a house, you turned to me. When your kids won a championship in sports or a spelling bee, I was there to cover it.

Everyday, rain or shine, I’m out there on your driveway waiting for you to wake up. I’ve never taken a day off or called in sick. Once in a while I may be late, but it’s not something I can control. I’ll be there by lunch.

I know a lot of you are reading me online these days, and I appreciate your continued support. You, the print readers, still want the real thing in your hands, ink on paper.

Some people say I’m just an old habit you can’t break, but I think I’m more than that. Much more. I think I’m as relevant today in your lives as the first day I was printed.

Let me tell you a story about the real power of the press. It was early in the morning, a few days after the Northridge Earthquake, and one of my reporters was doing interviews on a residential street near the heavily damaged Northridge Fashion Center mall.

He was talking to families still camping outside because they were afraid to sleep in their homes. They wanted to thank him. For what, the reporter asked? He didn’t do anything.

They said the morning after the earthquake, when the aftershocks were strong, and every little shaker brought more panic, a car drove slowly down their street as the sun was rising, and I came flying out the car window.

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I was all of four pages, wafer-thin with earthquake news, but that wasn’t what they needed. They were the earthquake news. What they needed, desperately wanted, was some kind of reassurance that things were going to be okay, that life would return to normal.

Seeing their local paper, as skinny as I was that day, still being delivered after 24-hours of utter chaos and destruction, gave it to them. I never felt more proud of being a newspaper than I did that morning.

Sometimes I wonder how the country survived all those years with just Walter Cronkite at night, and me in the morning? Not too bad, as I recall. You had a lot more time for family dinners, playing with the kids, a good book, and me. We weren’t in such a rush.

I introduced you to some remarkable people you would have never met, and printed your letters to the editor for everyone to see what was on your mind. I gave you a voice no one else could give you. I still do.

And, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, I’ll be there on your driveway in the morning waiting for you to wake up, put your robe on, and come get me.

On behalf of Alexander Hamilton and all the newspapers in America, thank you for your loyalty.

Dennis McCarthy’s column runs on Sunday. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

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