Monday marked the start of National Newspaper Week, and for the first time in years, we’d like to share a few comments about why this item you’re holding in your hands or scrolling through on your personal computer is important.

We haven’t said these things in recent years, because to us the benefits of a newspaper are evident every day, year in and year out. Besides — and despite examples being set by the president of the United States — blowing your own horn can be self-defeating.

Still, there are things that need to be said on this first day of National Newspaper Week, especially now, with America being shredded by divergent and conflicting political ideologies.

In case you haven’t noticed, the news media is facing a full-on attack by President Trump and many of his followers. Trump tends to cast reporting as “fake news,” even when there is visual evidence that what’s being reported is factual.

Counter-punching is not how this game is played, which is why so many branches of the news media have quietly taken the blows delivered by Trump and his followers.

Despite all this political dust, there are truths about newspapers we believe must be restated:

Newspapers bring you the news of the world. Not just news, but perspective and depth.

Newspapers provide basic information and general knowledge about the world around you.

Newspapers inform you of what’s happening in the world and in your nation, information about our country’s economy, entertainment and commerce. It is where you find the ads for the best deals.

Reading a newspaper every day tunes you in to modern life, enriching your knowledge of your surroundings. A full dose of news every morning ensures you can take part in discussions about current events, including politics.

All of this helps give you a clear understanding of what’s happening in your world, and the world of others. The daily newspaper habit gives so much.

That’s all great, but the truth, and modern argument is that you can also get all that on your smart phone at the coffee shop while you’re waiting for your non-fat latte. Why read a newspaper?

Glad you asked — because those insta-news platforms only scratch the surface, and rarely will they give you a complete picture of your own community and what’s happening in it. That’s the true power of a community newspaper. It’s yours and your neighbor’s. It’s the snapshot of Santa Maria, or Lompoc, or Guadalupe, or the Santa Ynez Valley and Nipomo. It’s where we live.

The “fake news” mantra is a myth in some ways, but it’s also what’s happening nowadays in much of social media, stories so outrageously false and misleading, but unfortunately believed by too many Americans.

Here’s our promise to you — you won’t find any fake news in this newspaper, nor will you find such news in any reputable American newspaper. Stories that may later prove to be inaccurate can be published, but the publishing source — if it’s a good newspaper — will always correct the inaccuracy at the very first opportunity.

Here’s what a few respected Americans have to say about newspapers:

“A good newspaper is a nation talking to itself.” — Arthur Miller.

“Most of us probably feel we couldn’t be free without newspapers, and that is the real reason we want newspapers to be free.” — Edward R. Murrow.

“Were it left to me to decide if we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” — Thomas Jefferson.

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