When the Star-Tribune began printing in Cheyenne last August, some people thought it was the beginning of the end for us. But nothing could be further from the truth.
In 1891 if you lived in Casper, Wyoming, and you could read, you read the Natrona Tribune, the Star-Tribune’s humble beginning. There was one newspaper in town with virtually no competition.
In the 1930s, radio came along. Critics predicted it would kill the newspaper, but that didn’t happen. Today in Casper, there are more than a dozen local radio stations plus Sirius Radio, Pandora and multiple other options, but only one newspaper.
In the 1950s, television came along. It also was predicted to kill the newspaper. But that didn’t happen. Today there are literally hundreds of television options. But there is still only one newspaper.
The 1990s brought the advent of the internet. The internet is truly a game changer that has revolutionized nearly every aspect of life and business. It too has been called a newspaper killer. While it is having a big effect, killing newspapers is not exactly what’s happening. But successful newspapers are evolving very quickly as a result.
If you have seen any of the reporting on studies of what happens to communities where the newspaper goes out of business, the news is not good. People become disassociated from their local government, and local government becomes disassociated from its citizens. It’s unhealthy for government of, by and for the people if there’s no balanced coverage of governmental activities. Communities become more polarized.
Newspapers can be a thread that runs through all of the community, conveying information about people and events that matter. Fact-based, in-depth, long-form journalism, plus watchdog and investigative reporting, help a community keep track of itself, from city hall to the dog park and everywhere in between. This is news that keeps us informed and involved. But when the newspaper goes away there is most often no one to pick up that slack.
Social media is very powerful and a real factor in the way a community communicates with itself today. But it’s no substitute for fact-based reporting. Few Facebook users or bloggers file public records requests or consistently attend community meetings to report what all sides of an issue are doing or thinking.
Media and media consumption has dramatically splintered over the past few years. It’s also true that print circulation has been declining over that period. But the Star-Tribune has been participating in the evolution of media and social media since the beginning of the internet age. While our print product reaches nearly 20 percent of our market, our digital products, including a replica of our print product, reaches 52 percent. Combined with our website, social media feeds and specialty newsletters, your newspaper – whether in print or electronically — reaches some 82 percent of the Casper market every week. There is really nothing to compare with the newspaper for informing or reflecting the depth of the community.
Why? Because the Casper Star-Tribune’s newsroom is the largest news operation in Wyoming, with more reporters and photographers than anyone else chasing down the stories that matter to you. We have professional reporters covering everything from energy and education, to government and criminal justice plus arts, community, food and sports. We offer nearly instant coverage of UW games as well as the state’s prep sports. Add to this broad national news and sports coverage, outstanding premium content on food, homes and technology plus comics, crosswords and puzzles, and you’ll find there is no substitute. For an accurate reflection of the community, the newspaper is it.
The Star-Tribune has been recognized as the best newspaper in the state by our peers at the Wyoming Press Association for two consecutive years, and most recently, the Associated Press Sports Editors honored our outstanding work in sports reporting, photography and investigative journalism. We strive to produce outstanding work every day from right here in Casper, where our journalists, sales staff and circulation teams are located.
No, the news about what happens when a community loses its newspaper isn’t good, and it’s obvious why. I can’t say that the newspaper business in Casper is easy. But I can say it’s important to us that we do it well and we hope it’s important to you too. No matter where we are printing, thank you for reading the Casper Star-Tribune.