Last night when I was watching television, a national cable-news show host paid homage to community newspapers at the end of her hour-long program.
She was noting that she and other national news folks were reporting on the problems that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had with ?Bridge Gate,? the big traffic tie-up on the George Washington Bridge last September.
However, she said, the down-and-dirty, day-in and day-out work was being done by community newspapers in New Jersey.
And she thanked those newspapers for their work.
This message meant something to me.
Here on Hatteras and Ocracoke, The Island Free Press has been providing community journalism to the island for almost eight years.
We have been blessed by incredible support from regular readers in the local community and our far-flung community of off-island property owners and regular visitors.
It?s been more difficult to gain financial support from our local businesses.
There are obvious reasons for that.
We are fortunate that Hatteras and Ocracoke are a community of largely locally owned, small independent businesses, including The Island Free Press. We?ve all been affected in the past few years by transportation corridor issues, including hurricanes, inlets, Highway 12 ocean overwash, Bonner Bridge safety issues, and shoaling in the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry channel.
However, when money gets tight at our fellow small businesses, the first thing to go is advertising ? even though the most successful and oldest businesses on the island have thrived on regular advertising.
And I just want all of you ? our readers ? to think about that for a minute.
The Island Free Press is a business, and, like all of you, we need financial support to keep publishing.
There are also two other locally owned newspapers in our area — on Ocracoke Island. They are the Ocracoke Observer, a print newspaper, and the Ocracoke Current, an online newspaper.
We are your community newspapers.
Many businesses that do not advertise in any of these locally owned choices do business with alternative ?free? publications that are not locally owned. So their money is going off the islands, and does not do a thing to foster community journalism.
Though investigative journalism on many national print and online news sites gets big headlines, it?s the stuff that your community newspaper is writing about that matters the most to you and your life and your business.
First, consider the issues of the granite stones from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse that mark its original location before it was moved away from the encroaching Atlantic in 1999.
The stones are engraved with the names of the lightkeepers and have been continually covered by sand from the ocean storms. The Park Service said last year, it no longer planned to uncover and maintain them.
But because of a public outcry and media coverage, the stones are now in the process of being moved.
Also, take the issue of lifeguards on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches.
The fact that the Park Service intended to cut the lifeguards from its visitor services was first reported last November. It got continued attention in the media this spring as locals focused on a seashore with no lifeguarded beaches.
Continued coverage by the local media has now forced the Park Service to take another look at the issue. We might not get lifeguards, but the seashore has definitely gotten the message.
Community journalism is the journalism that matters most, and it takes money to support this work. For those who are working at it, it is not a hobby. It?s a business.
Online newspapers, such as the Island Free Press, may have an advantage here as we don?t have to pay for such things as printing and delivery of papers. But we do have to pay freelance contributors, bookkeepers, web hosting, and other fees.
I couldn?t be more honored by the contribution the Island Free Press has made than being stopped by the many folks I encounter every week who tell me how important our work is to them as readers.
However, without the financial support of local businesses, we will not be able to continue with our community journalism.
Please visit the businesses that advertise on the IFP site, and if you frequent businesses that do not advertise, tell them how important their support is to us.
Support the local newspapers that support you and your issues.