Archive for Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It all ads up

New technology cannot replace authenticity of newspaper

April 16, 2008

When I started my newspaper career in 1986, there were no fax machines, no cell phones, no e-mail and definitely no Internet.

That was 23 years ago, and everything has changed. Everything moves faster, technology has advanced and we are able to get information at the tips of our fingers in a matter of seconds.

My son has become "tech support" for the family's computers and can out-maneuver me on a computer like an expert racecar driver at Kansas Speedway.

The newspaper industry has experienced unprecedented change of its own. The Internet has completely re-constructed the landscape of our business.

As an advertising manager, I hear about this new landscape. I am told only the baby boomers and older read the paper. I am told how all the young people get their news from the Internet. I am reminded about decreasing national circulation and how some think the paper will be replaced by the Internet. I am told people are too busy these days to pick up a paper and read it over morning coffee. Even more feedback includes the subject that all news is bad these days, and it is just too depressing to read. Well:

Our staff works hard and long hours to put out quality, accurate newspapers that provide information our community needs and desires. We also update our Web sites and realize this is an important part of our industry both now and in the future. Week after week, we work and sometimes we wonder if it makes a difference. I've always known in my heart that yes, it does make a difference and yes, people are paying attention to our product.

But, never was my belief confirmed more than this past week when KU won the national championship. The following day by 6:30 a.m., the newspaper rack in front of The Mirror was empty. All day long, a steady stream of happy fans came in to ask if we had copies of the Lawrence Journal-World.

Two of my friends from Topeka called on my cell phone to ask me if I could get copies for them. On the inside of this special edition, the paper provided tips on how to preserve the paper as well as how to frame a page of newsprint. Timely advertisements provided information on how to obtain national championship T-Shirts, less than 12 hours after the win!

Newspapers are a historical account of local and national events. Whether it is a 50th anniversary or a national championship, each issue has something in it that means something to someone. My faith in our products has never declined, but this past week's local events have further confirmed my commitment and belief that a tangible product, invited into the home, has a long future ahead of it. Try framing the front page of an Internet site! I guess you can print out a Web page and put it in a scrapbook, but somehow it's just not the same.

Times change but some things remain the same. We want to remember where we have been and have something to hold in our hands to look back on years later. The newspaper will continue to serve that purpose in a way that technology can't. Maybe we have the best of both worlds!

- Kathy Lafferty is the Leavenworth-Wyandotte County advertising sales manager for The World Company.

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