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There are lots of reasons to be reader of local paper

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My Views by Thomas J. Barr, Publisher

 Closing a casket on newspapers might be a bit premature.

In fact, my goal today is to briefly give the state of the industry and then try to convince you why you should be part of The Pioneer News family.

The platform is a little larger today as every child in the Bullitt County Public School System should have received a copy of today’s issue.

Why today’s issue?

It is the first issue of the new school year.

So what?

The issue has several very important back-to-school type articles that you NEED to see.

But, first things first.

In my 28 years in the industry - all being at The Pioneer News - things have changed a lot. But most of that has come in the way we produce and distribute our product.

From the days of literally cutting and pasting (waxing, in our industry) to where we can send messages to your computer of breaking news, change has been rapid.

No longer are we spending 5-10 hours of week playing in messy chemicals to develop black and white photos. No longer do we have long strands of film hanging in the darkroom. Today, it is all digital and we can even receive photos over a computer from our readers.

No longer does it take two days to put together one paper and hope that the strips of paper don’t shift on the way back to the big camera in the pre-press room (formerly known as the darkroom). Now, all that work is done on the computer.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for good, solid reporting. Not falling into the trap of getting a little information, slapping it on the website and worrying about making corrections later.

Journalism 101 is still Journalism 101.

Our goal is to produce the best newspaper possible under more difficult times. And our goal is to provide a website that provides you with the most up-to-date news, including e-mail blasts and daily obituaries.

Our goal is not to sensationalize. Our goal is to tell the story.

In the world of community newspapers in which we live, the future is still OK. It’s better than OK. 

While bigger papers are facing other challenges, most non-daily, community newspapers will survive - albeit we may not recognize it in 10 years.

We are blessed to be part of a family organization that has not gotten into the woes of debt. We are part of an organization with solid newspapers throughout the country. We are not huge but we are solid - solid in the reporting of community news.

Now that we know the “closed” sign won’t be appearing and we continue to provide value to our readers through news and advertising, here’s the sales pitch.

First, let me welcome some of you to Bullitt County. Some are new to the community and some sleep here and are not really part of the county with the exception of your child being in the school district.

Contrary to what you may see or read in the big-town news, Bullitt County is a great place to live and work. The county is full of hard-working people who are proud of their community and of their schools.

But what does that have to do with you and a community newspaper?

People need to stay informed about things happening in their community.

How many times do we hear people complain or comment on things going on in Washington? A lot.

But you don’t realize what is happening in your own communities. The things that elected officials do at home are much more important in your lives than what happens in the White House or with Congress.

How many know the tax rates imposed on basically everything you own? Do you know when those rates are set and how it is determined?

How many know that if you are in a fire taxing district, that rate may be higher than your local city and it is probably higher than the county tax rate?

How many know that the local library system has millions of dollars in its coffers and was able to basically pay cash for new facilities?

When you go to eat a meal in Shepherdsville do you know that the tax rate may be higher than other areas? And do you know where that extra money goes?

Do you know if you live in a city or in the unincorporated area of the county?

If I need an ambulance, who pays for it?

How well is my child’s school doing academically in comparison to others in the county or in the state?

Who is the superintendent and school board members? Why should you care?

These are just one of millions of questions we answer every year. 

But it gets lonely in our world of communications.

If I had a nickel for every time someone said “I didn’t know that was going on,” I would have been retired.

There is nothing more frustrating for a reporter than to write story after story on a subject and people say they didn’t know what was going on. That’s not our fault.

So much for scolding. YOU need to be informed or something might happen that you don’t like and it will be too late.

Now, let’s look at why parents with children in the school system should be a part of The Pioneer News family.

Every month, we sponsor the Excellence Begins in the Classroom. This is a monthly special section produced by the school system. Primarily, it is about the kids of your school district.

We just print and insert the section as a community service. Over the years, we have had a few sponsors and we thank them for the help.

But, even in tough days and even though the Excellence can be found on-line, we strongly believe in the district and the strides it is taking. That is why we continue to financially support this section.

In every issue, you will find something about the schools. It might be an announcement for an upcoming fund-raiser or it might be a school-based council meeting which is approaching.

You can find honor roll listings, and even perfect attendance, from the schools which submit those items. If you don’t see your school in the paper, let them know.

Some schools will send us photos of special events, guest speakers or event students of the month. We try to make that a top priority although space is often limited.

Don’t get mad at schools you see in the paper a lot - they are the ones who are calling.

We have a photo gallery on our website - www.pioneernews.net — and that is a great place for us to run a lot of photos from events that we can’t run in the paper. A great bit of technology that we have embraced.

Even as an article or photo deals with another school, take note. It might be something your child’s school can replicate in the future.

Take note of the trends in the schools. While test scores should never be viewed as the only way to assign progress, it is what it is. It is the way the education field and the media assigns passing or failing grades.

As parents, you need to be involved. You need to be concerned.

If your child is involved in sports, The Pioneer News has the best coverage in the state - of course, that is my opinion. People have strong passion for their sports and we know it from their comments. As long as each of the three high school programs are complaining, we’re doing OK.

Besides extensive high school coverage from Mike Farner, a veteran of around 35 years, this newspaper does more in the area of youth football, cheerleading and baseball than anyone around.

Each Wednesday, the Greater Bullitt County Youth Football results take up a full page of the newspaper. Hundreds of names each week are listed. 

We have hundreds of names and faces for the annual cheerleading competition.

And we have extensive post-season coverage for the baseball and softball All-Stars.

Sounds like we’re tooting our own horns. We are and we don’t do it enough.

Newspapers do an awful job of promoting our industry and our product. If we have a bit of space come open, we may run an ad about ourselves. But that’s kind of like the television stations or cable systems running an ad about themselves, we’re all preaching to our own choir.

So this is the pitch. It is a legitimate pitch.

YOU NEED TO BE INFORMED ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY.

Today, on page A-14, there is an opportunity to subscribe to The Pioneer News and help out your school of choice. It is also helps with our Newspaper in Education program, which takes the paper into the classrooms for various lessons on math, current events and even grammar.

There is even a way that you can space out your payments to just $3.36 a month. Delivered to your home or business.

Your own copy to cut out those special items to hang on the refrigerator. You can’t always rely on calling up the newspaper office and saying, “Sally saw my child in the paper for honor roll, can I get a copy of that issue?”

Sometimes, those issues are sold out. Those are things you can’t afford to miss.

And a final plug for those who are looking for bargains. 

Our advertisers have a lot of specials every issue. Plus, we have national coupons each week to save you many dollars. Plus, we have the national American Profile magazine full of great stories, coupons and recipes. We have monthly publications - Spry and Relish - which give you stories about health, food and daily living. Those national magazines also have coupons and recipes.

And the classified section is full of help wanted ads, as well as those very important public notices. That’s where you see legal issues such as foreclosures and rezonings.

For our loyal readers, thank you. Let us know your concerns or story ideas. 

For our newcomers today who have youngsters in the school system, make it a point to call us today at 543-2288 and become part of The Pioneer News family. We are a small, hardworking group of people to spend a lot of time trying to keep YOU informed.

I personally think it is an investment you can’t afford not to make.

Now, I am leaving my soapbox. Good day.