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Have we lost a strong sense of community?

Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

Community newspapers are not mass media. They are narrowly focused in a tight geographical region and are involved in covering the everyday activities of the residents they serve. Everything from the local school kids and school boards to community volunteers and local politicians. Local folks and what they are doing is what community newspapers like the one you’re holding in your hand are all about.

You can imagine our surprise recently when the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), after being awarded a $4 million dollar grant from the US Department of Homeland Security to recruit new volunteer firefighters, choose not to use any of those dollars in this medium. We were told community newspapers were in the original proposal, but were scratched because: “it is harder to recruit volunteer firefighters because as people they have become more mobile and less attached to their communities.”

Come again? Volunteer firefighters are less attached to their community yet they are willing to put their lives on the line for their neighbors in the event of a house fire? Do you understand that logic? It makes absolutely no sense to me, but then again so many opinions swirling around these days don’t have much basis in simple common sense.

FASNY through the advice of a city-based advertising agency will spend the entire advertising campaign on cable television, radio and hundreds of billboards.  They also plan to have a presence on Facebook and Twitter because they are targeting less attached 18 to 35-year-olds.

Volunteer firefighters — and their family and friends — are among our most loyal readers. Volunteer firefighters are as big a part of the local fabric as is this community newspaper. If your house is on fire, you don’t call the nearest city fire department nor send a post to your Facebook or Twitter account. The same holds true when you’ve got a local news story you go directly to your local newspaper.

Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at dan@denpubs.com

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