If you consider how far our world has moved away from ink-on-paper, that seems a fair assessment. Remember when we all sat around waiting for faxes to spit out of those obnoxious machines? (And why wasn’t there a federal investigation into the phone company executive who created the shrieking noise a completed fax emitted?) Faxes have been replaced by computer scans stored as PDFs.
The bank checks we once wrote have been converted into about 37 other options for payment – debit cards, credit cards, gift cards, Apple Pay, Bitcoin, if you wear tinfoil on your head.
Even schools are removing the need for paper. Books are read on iPads, students take notes on laptops. A detention slip probably comes in the form of a text message (I don’t know that for certain, but the emojis would be priceless.)
And then there’s the email I received a few months ago from a former recipient of The Leader.
“Dear Sir, please do not deliver your newspaper to [address redacted]. I am running a completely paperless home,” the note said.
I had neither the desire nor the intestinal fortitude to ask this fellow what he now places on the roller next to his commode, so I just wished the planet saver well in his endeavors and promised we would no longer deliver him a newspaper.
I’ve told this story before, but when I was a junior in college, the dean of my journalism school told me I should spend all of my free time learning how to write code for the internet. He bluntly said printed newspapers wouldn’t be around in five years, and that was 23 years ago.
In 2007, when the Great Recession crept up on our country and seemingly demolished the major newspaper industry, a whole host of experts and consultants said there was no way newspapers would survive another five years. That was 10 years ago.
I don’t know that newspapers are as resilient as they seem, but I have discovered something about our industry that, somehow, has kept us alive a lot longer than the morticians projected. If we can find a way to remain relevant in your lives, you – the readers – will find a place for us in your homes.
We have some really cool things happening at The Leader in the next few months, and as I have now spent the last 400 words telling you why people want to see print disappear, let me spend the next 400 telling you why having a strong, community newspaper still seems to make sense in neighborhoods like ours.
This Monday, The Leader will host its inaugural Media Camp, designed to teach children between the ages of 9-14 about the workings of this industry. They’re going to learn about print, web, radio, TV and social media. When our company decided to put on this camp, we hoped there would be 15-20 kids who would have enough interest in attending that they (their parents) would pay for the cost of the camp.
When the registrations surpassed 40 students, we realized that maybe there’s something valuable to teaching young people about the role media should play in our lives. What’s better, the success of this year’s camp means we’ll be able to do it for years to come and we’ll be able to expand it into other parts of the city.
There’s something else we’re doing at The Leader that has me as excited as I’ve been in a while about providing information about our community.
We spend a lot of time in the Heights, Garden Oaks, Oak Forest, Timbergrove and the rest of our neighborhoods talking about the things that have changed over the years. We talk about how things used to be (see our “Those Were the Days” section, which publishes at the end of this month.) We also talk about new developments and new grocery stores and new alcohol laws.
But we need to do a better job telling the stories of the new people who call our neighborhoods home. Young people across this region have decided to move their budding families to our community, and with the influx of young people, we are building a future for our neighborhoods that has the chance to sustain itself for generations to come.
On Sept. 9, The Leader is going to publish an entire edition devoted to the young people who are quickly growing into the leaders of our community. We aren’t going to be too fancy with the title: The Top 30 Under 40.
You’ve seen these sections across the city before, but it’s never been done in solely in our neighborhoods. And in order to do it well, we need our readers to help.
If you’re a business that has one or two or three employees under the age of 40, and they are quickly becoming leaders in your business, we want you to tell us about them.
If you’re a husband of a wife who has an astounding career (kind of like I do), and your wife is under the age of 40, we want to know about her.
If your best friend is helping lead a budding industry in our community, we want to know about him or her.
And if you know someone who is just a special person, maybe through her volunteer work at a local school or his time coaching youth baseball, we want to know about that person.
Our only idea for this section on Sept. 9 is to honor the young people who have committed to making our community better. If it’s a professional who deserves recognition, our only requirement is that he or she live in one of our neighborhoods. They can work on the Energy Corridor or in The Woodlands, for all we care. And if they live in our area and work at one of our local businesses, all the better.
All we need is for you to send us an email at email@example.com and give us a name and a brief description about the person. You can also vist our website, www.theleadernews.com, and click the 30Under40 button on the right to nominate someone.
I look forward to hearing from you.