EDITORIAL: Happy birthday to us… / EDITORIAL: What volunteers won’t tell you

WE’RE STARTING ANOTHER NEW YEAR, our seventh in print. If you forgot to send a card, don’t feel bad. We’re celebrating by doing what we’ve done each week since April 16, 2009, publishing another edition of The Columbia Paper and columbiapaper.com.

News of the newspaper industry sounds as grim today as it did when we started. Big papers are struggling. Daily readership declines and big advertisers are lured away by digital media. Small community papers, not so much. Blah, blah, blah. Enough with the pessimism.Here in the real world, you can do market research while standing in the checkout line or walking your dog. The science is sketchy but the results are consistent. Tell somebody you meet in Columbia County that you’re with The Columbia Paper and you’ll get one of two responses.

The first one we don’t hear so much anymore:  “I never heard of that paper.” It’s less frequent now because we work on telling people about this paper all the time. But you could help us with this. Mention something you read or saw in the paper. Pass along a copy to a friend.

Then there’s response number two: “I love your paper.” Really. People tell us this all the time. Who would have thought in the 21st century anybody would say such a thing about a newspaper. Thank you for that. We don’t take it for granted. We try very hard each week to meet your expectations. We want to give you value. You’ve paid for it.

The pace of our growth frustrates us at times. You may feel the same way. We finance expansion from revenues, which come primarily from advertising and paper sales, including subscriptions. We know there are Columbia County communities that still need more coverage; many stories are waiting to be told. We make editorial choices based on the availability of writers and photographers and whether there’s money to pay them. When you buy the paper or when you purchase goods or services from our advertisers you support our efforts to tell those stories.

Columbia County has some of the slowest Internet connections in the state. At some unknown point that will change… rapidly, which will put even more pressure on local media to adapt. That’s why, over the last year, we’ve spent time and money on a website upgrade and social media development, without knowing where the next big thing will take us.
Hard times, the occasional setback and a steady flow of small steps forward: here we are another year older and just possibly a little wiser. The Columbia Paper has grown in all respects over the last six years. With your support, we believe that trend will continue.

EDITORIAL: What volunteers won’t tell you

NO ONE SHOULD HAVE to write this editorial, let alone read it. What could be more obvious than supporting an effort aimed at encouraging people to volunteer for community organizations? But from what’s been published about the Community Volunteer Fair at the Roeliff Jansen Community Library this Saturday, April 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., no one is talking about the secret that stalks most every volunteer.

This is National Volunteer Week and anyone able to detach his or her face from his or her phone for a few minutes can visit the library and meet people from 20 or so local volunteer organizations. You may already know some of these volunteers, and whoever they are, they’ve come to make friends. They’ll tell what they do and how you could help.

Some people might like putting out fires, others prefer kindling a passion for learning in a child who needs a little extra encouragement. There are plenty of ways to build communities, all of which require the active participation of human beings.

And that looming secret? It’s not guilt. If you don’t show up, no one will know. It’s certainly has nothing to do with politics, prestige or money. The fundamental drawback associated with volunteering is that once to do it… it’s so difficult to stop. Get a taste of volunteering and you’ll want more. Changing the world around you even a little bit for the better quickly becomes a habit. Think you’re strong enough to resist? Try it and prove me wrong.
The library is on the west side of state Route 22 about a mile south of the intersection with Route 23.

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