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The New York Times recently published a lengthy piece about the Warroad Pioneer, a community newspaper in Minnesota, closing after 121 years. The story comes on the heels of another major closure announcement: at the end of this month, the 150-year-old Youngstown Vindicator will print its last issue.

These are not the first closings, and they won’t be the last: some 2,000 newspapers have been shuttered in the past 15 years as the industry fights an uphill battle against changing readership and advertising habits, outdated business practices and the irrational whims of out-of-state ownership groups.

The University of North Carolina has been conducting an extensive study on the newspaper industry, and has identified what researchers call “news deserts,” areas of the country where there’s no or limited newspaper presence.

What they and other researchers have found is that people who live in these news deserts are less informed and more politically polarized than their counterparts in communities with daily or weekly papers. Government spending has often increased, and the individuals affected are often in poorer communities.

The point of this editorial isn’t doom and gloom, however. Nor is it an attempt to garner pity for our industry. Rather, these announcements serve to focus the News-Times on our mission: to produce a relevant newspaper that tells important, informative and entertaining stories in dynamic ways, a newspaper that reflects our community, illuminating problems as well as potential solutions.

We’re working to build a newspaper that meets these goals, and we need your help to do so. Let us know what we can do better, share stories with us that you believe need to be told and communicate the great things that are happening in our community that we can celebrate on our pages.

The good news is that the company that owns the News-Times is committed to the paper’s long-term vitality. As veterans of the newspaper industry, we’ve found that, hands down, our parent company — WECHO Media Inc. — values providing strong community journalism. The company has an inspiring vision for the future from our publisher Walter E. Hussman, Jr. and we are supported by an incredible corporate team.

The future will be challenging. But it’s a challenge we look forward the meeting.

•••

We were happy to see the response from community members interested in joining the editorial board. If you’re interested in joining the board, please send an email to cslinkard@eldoradonews.com. Include any relevant biographical information, as well as details about businesses/organizations you’ve worked for or have been involved with. Tell us why you want to join and the role you believe newspapers should play in the community.

Members of the News-Times Editorial Board are general manager Rita Haldeman and managing editor Caleb Slinkard. The board can be reached at cslinkard@eldoradonews.com.

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