Guest Editorial: Welcome to Print, Stevens Point City-Times
By Dr. Steven Hill, Special to the City-Times
Congratulations go to the Stevens Point City-Times on its first print edition. Even bigger congratulations could go to all of us.
What’s happening here reflects more than the commitment of the City-Times’ dedicated staff. It’s a strong message about the importance of real news to a community.
What authors Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel have called a key element of journalism – the responsibilities that audiences have and the rights they can expect – is at play in Portage County. We demand truthfulness, loyalty to citizens, a public forum for discussion, an independent monitoring of power, and other characteristics of good journalism; because of that, we find ourselves in the remarkable and rare position of adding a print newspaper to our community.
Andy Davis, editor of UWSP’s The Pointer, calls a printed paper “tangible, physical evidence of the power and permanence of words.” As chief for a publication that itself has been named among the best 10 collegiate weeklies in its class for two consecutive years, he shares my appreciation of what the City-Times is doing.
For all its strengths, The Pointer isn’t the top dog in town. Its print version competes with a Gannett-owned daily, a local weekly that originated in 1878, and now a fourth hard-copy newspaper in the City-Times.
That’s almost an embarrassment of riches – because it means we value different viewpoints and understand the importance of encouraging many voices in a democracy. Almost – because we can never have enough.
To sustain a healthy, vibrant, prosperous community, Stevens Point needs these voices. The City-Times is doing its part, and as citizens we must do ours. We must hold our media to the standards of good journalism; we must ourselves stay engaged in and supportive of good public discussion.
Cynics may say it won’t last. But they’re not looking at Italy, where Il Fatto Quotidiano (The Daily Facts) is a highly profitable, journalist-controlled print product that started digitally, as the City-Times did. Launched in 2009, Il Fatto thrives because the citizens of Italy welcomed an alternative to big media that weren’t doing the job.
In an era when we expect only grim news about newspaper profits and survival, when the voices seem to go silent one by one, Stevens Point instead has added another.
Kudos to the City-Times. Kudos to all of us. Now let’s get back to the work of democracy.
̶ Steve Hill is an associate professor of media studies and advisor to The Pointer student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.