Newspapers remain vital to our communities

Journalists from across the Cowboy State came together in Casper over the weekend for the 125th annual Wyoming Press Association Winter Convention.
This is a weekend when we gather to talk about the newspaper business, greet friends and colleagues, compare notes, trade war stories and take classes on how to serve you, our readers, better.
Newspapers across the nation are facing many challenges: shrinking advertising dollars, finding staff, attempts by government to limit transparency, the ever-growing polarity of American politics and, thus, citizen opinion, how to attract young readers with short attention spans in a TikTok world and battling for attention from a populace more and more caught in the grasp of social media. In short, the professionals we met with and learned from are fighting to stay relevant.
What we can tell you is that newspapers in Wyoming remain strong. It was heartening to see dozens of young, earnest reporters and grizzled veterans alike from across Wyoming taking seriously their role of telling important stories, providing needed illumination, highlighting community issues, holding government accountable and digging into things that need to be brought to the surface.
Newspapers continue to play a vital role in promoting literacy, fostering democracy and binding communities together like nothing else can.
Many of our seminars involved digital adverting and news platforms so that old editors and publishers can learn new tricks from the young generation, along with the usual classes on writing, photography, advertising and graphic design.
Wyoming is fortunate to have some of the finest newspapers in the nation serving their communities. This is not hyperbole, it’s the opinion of professionals who read and judge our contests. But as more people get their “news” in the form of cute cat videos and funny dance videos, their fingers scrolling, scrolling, scrolling on a smartphone screen, journalists are battling for attention in a world of short attention spans.
The good news is that journalism in Wyoming is strong, and newspapers are still, by far, the best place for accurate, non-biased news and information and effective advertising. Our readers and customers tell us that every day. We’re just learning to better roll with the times, provide a creative and interesting product and maintain our leadership position in the expanding world of media.
We’re up to the challenge, folks, and we want you along for the journey. We are passionately dedicated to our community and to local news, sports and feature coverage. Indeed, the word “local” was used about 10,000 times last weekend at our convention, and we’re preaching it. We want to tell your story in a manner that is interesting, meaningful and “worth the read.”
Our newspaper is about you, our readers. This is your paper, and we want you with us every step of the way. Let us know what we can do better. Pepper us with ideas.  Help us be the best we can.
And above all, support local journalism. Subscribe, read, share, support our advertisers and encourage young people to do the same. A strong press is vital to the future of our nation. It truly is.
On Saturday, a publisher from another town approached our editor and, having picked up a copy of last week’s edition with Dr. Hill and the da Vinci surgical robot on the front page, told him what a great paper we had – well designed and packed full of great stories and information. He’s not a guy to blow smoke, and we’re not telling this story to pat ourselves on the back. We’re simply saying that your newspaper, like many others in our state, is strong and that we want you to enjoy our ever-evolving journey with us.
Here’s to strong newspapering in Wyoming.
-- David Peck