PUBLISHER: Great communities are informed communities

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By Tony Cotten

The older we get, the more we realize the importance of our parents’ influence upon us. Growing up, a normal evening at the Cotten household included supper at the kitchen table with mom and dad, followed by time to relax.
At the time, I did not know the repetition of a normal evening would play an important role in a life observation at 46.
The observation is one of my dad after supper, pulling the arm of his recliner with a squeak and spring locking out the footrest. In his hands would be our local newspaper with a cup of coffee on the end table next to him.
This was dad’s routine every evening. He would read one section of the paper while my mother would take another section and curl up on the couch across the living room from dad.
A child exploring the reasons of adulthood, I asked my parents why they read the newspaper, a thing to me at the time looked boring in its black and white type and pictures that seemed more for wanted posters than entertainment.
My parents explained to me that reading the newspaper kept them informed of what was happening in the community.
My dad told me it was how he knew we had baseball call-out to attend the following Monday evening. They also told me that like voting, it was a civic responsibility.
That was not how they said it, but it’s the short way to tell you they told me reading the newspaper was something as adults we should do to be informed about the events, politics, and people of our hometown.
I was somewhere in my 10-11-year-old life span at the time, which would be circa 1975. Newspapers were a staple in every household.
To not receive the local newspaper would have made you look either poor or foolish in 1975. Today, most everyone finds a television subscription a staple of their home. Even if it’s only tuned by rabbit ears, a home without a working television seems odd.
But the problem with television is that it’s often not an effective transmitter of local events. Does television care if there’s a bake sale at a local church or that a local business has been sold?
Likewise, the internet, like many medium before it, seemed to be the end-all answer for dispersing news, even local news. However, like television before it, the internet is hindered by its very strength.
Television has a broad reach, making it great for large messages. Internet also has a broad reach but is very segmented and is great for niche information (if you love trains you can find news and websites only about trains).
Neither TV nor the internet are effective to reach areas that are large in area, yet small by community.
 I share these observations after a meeting in which leaders of La Grange met to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the local community.
Out of the many things that were discussed was the need to communicate to the local community the needs of La Grange and the desire for other citizens to share their input and get involved with their community.
There seemed to be frustration that Oldham County doesn’t have one medium that the leaders of La Grange could use to reach the rooftops that make-up and surround Oldham County.
Listening to the conversation I realized what a failure The Oldham Era must be. Because as the group brainstormed, it seemed to me the easiest solution to the communication problem would be a newspaper.
 But there is a
However, as I assessed The Oldham Era and the conversations around me took place, I thought back to my dad, his chair, the newspaper, and parent’s teaching that it was on them to keep abreast of what was happening in the local community by doing their part, which was to read the newspaper.
 Now, I am not writing this to chastise or simply sell more newspaper subscriptions, although that is my daily job.
I am writing this to admit The Oldham Era has had times of rough sailing and poor decisions.
But those times are over. What my staff and I are attempting to do right now in 2012 is be the absolute best community newspaper in Kentucky. And this is not cheer words or bulletin board fodder.
We believe we can be better and that we can make our community a better place. We are the missing informational link for communities like La Grange, Crestwood, Pewee Valley, Ballardsville, Skylight, Brownsboro, Goshen and Prospect.
But we must ask you, the person reading this article, are you willing to help your community by taking on the onus of being informed by reading your best source of local news?
 There are a lot of good things happening in Oldham County.
We want you to know, we want to see you involved, and we want your voice in Oldham County’s newspaper.
And to coincide with our request to join us – we will offer a yearly subscription as a “pass it forward”
Each employee of The Oldham Era is willing to buy one subscription for one person if that person agrees to “pass it forward” to another subscriber by purchasing a subscription for a special price of $20 for a year.
If you’re already a subscriber and want one for someone else, we will sell you one for $20.
And if you’re a new subscriber we will sell you a subscription for $20 and give you certificate to offer someone else to pass it forward.
 Great communities are informed communities.
And our forefathers believed the press was the best way to keep their community informed, and though many things have changed, many truths remain. Reading your local newspaper is the best way to be involved in your community.
Tony Cotten is publisher of The Oldham Era. The views in this column are those of the writer.