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Clemons: Celebrate National Newspaper Week with The Covington News

I’m not sure there’s ever been a better time for National Newspaper Week.

Personally, there is a lot of excitement because Sunday marks one month of new ownership of The Covington News, and therefore one month for me being the publisher here. (And you said I’d never last.)

But this is also a crucial time not only to explain our industry but celebrate it as well.

First, the close-to-home stuff.

It’s been a whirlwind month for The News, and I’ve hardly had time to catch my breath.

Changing ownership after 31 years isn’t something that’s finished with the signing of paperwork and passing of a check. Instead, there has been a ton of behind-the-scenes work that doesn’t really show up in the pages of a newspaper, but if it didn’t get done right, you’d sure be able to tell it.

Our staff has my undying gratitude.

Through all of it, we’re working on a couple of really big changes that will show up next week. If you’re a subscriber, we appreciate you more than you know, and we’re making these with you in mind. If you’re not a subscriber, you’re going to want to make sure to pick up a copy of The News next week too, and we’ll see if that doesn’t make you want to be a subscriber once and for all.

Trust me when I tell you The Covington News never will have looked so good.

We’re also working to bring you the first of many new magazines you’ll be seeing in our pages. This time it’s Halftime Showcase, a glossy, full-color magazine that shows you the glitz and glamour of our bands and cheerleaders from local high schools.

Back in August, The News gave you an in-depth preview of high school football. This new magazine will highlight the bands and cheerleaders like never before in Newton County.

If you’re a reader, know that subscribers will get the magazine included with their subscription. There’s no added charge and you’ll have it delivered right to your home or office.

If you’re a business, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to be in this magazine. It’s going to be a keepsake for the moms, dads, grandparents and friends of the students named and pictured.

All this activity makes me shake my head at the people who insist newspapers are past their prime. Seriously? We’re busier than ever, and I can’t imagine there’s ever been a better time to be in the newspaper business.

(OK, maybe back in the days when we had little to no competition. But this is a close second.)

Take the web traffic into account and readership for newspapers never has been higher.

According to a recent readership survey, some 4.8 million Georgians read a newspaper every week. That’s two-thirds of the adults, and I dare say the number would be higher if you struck parts of metro Atlanta where people just aren’t picking up a major metro daily paper.

Newspapers remain the No. 1 source for shopping information by Georgia consumers, and it’s not close. Some 35 percent of shoppers said they turn to newspaper products first, with the internet lagging behind at 14 percent.

And we’re the No. 1 source for local news according to 34 percent of Georgians — the highest rate in the survey, ahead of the 28 percent garnered by local television. The number of residents choosing printed newspapers or newspaper websites as their primary news source was 43 percent outside the metro Atlanta area.

Yet we’re facing a near-constant attack, from people who will tell you newspapers don’t matter. Some people would love to see our demise, but an independent press is crucial to democracy. It’s literally the First Amendment to the Constitution.

I love the ads The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is running, that local news is “worth your support.” I suppose the AJC is a competitor for subscription dollars, even though there are more stories about Newton County in one issue of The Covington News than they’ll print in a year. But the message abides: Local journalism is worth your support.

We are in your community. We employ 11 people, plus use an army of correspondents and carriers to get you the news.

We may not be the only media organization in the county, but we are the one with an office right here in downtown Covington, and we’re not going anywhere. In fact, we’re moving operations in-house, rather than farming them out, because we’re bullish on the future of this business and this community.

Newspaper Week is a time to celebrate, indeed.

David Clemons is the editor and publisher of The Covington News. His email address is dclemons@covnews.com. Twitter: @covnews.