Editorial: Imagine you have no newspaper

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Steve Gall is the publisher of RiverTown Multimedia; Anne Jacobson is the RiverTown Multimedia news director

If reading your community newspaper evokes any sort of emotion in you, more often than not, we've done our job.

Newspapers fall into a curious category. We tend to be a business folks love to hate. We are also a business that creates the volume-equivalent of a short novel weekly. Most short novels get eight to 10 weeks prep time prior to the publishing deadline. Dailies get 24 hours, twice-weeklies get 3.5 days, weeklies — seven days. Then, after all the news of the day or week is gathered, the most unique aspect of our business occurs: We take our effort and put it out there for all to read, digest, be informed, learn, shape opinions, and critique. And we start again on your next edition.

It truly is your newspaper. Please don't stop critiquing us.

Your local newspaper is an important fabric of the community. It is a First Amendment-driven right and our responsibility. The daily/weekly news grind — coverage of numerous sports events, city hall meetings, county court cases, accidents — is by no means glamorous. It is the flip-side coverage of the many milestone events, education stories and other human interest features that offset and reward us in this business.

All that said, we take what we do very seriously and we'd like you to hold us to the highest standards. That's why we are participating in the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Whiteout. Behind this effort, we are simply asking:

What if there were no newspapers?

What if we did not have freedom of speech?

What if the media was state-owned?

All of this is why we are participating in the Whiteout this week. This is both a statement of solidarity with 200-plus newspapers across the region and one of confidence in our vital role.

Local newspapers and their websites are like libraries, serving as a community reference. We deliver accurate, honest and vetted information.

Local newspapers and their websites are like schools, educating citizens on important issues. We then urge people to take what they know and make things better.

Local newspapers and their websites are like museums, preserving culture and giving current events context. Newspapers, it's been said, write the first draft of history.

Local newspapers and their websites are local watchdogs, holding your government officials accountable and protecting your rights.

We know how a seemingly little event often is pivotal for our community. We connect you to the place where you live.

We look forward to continuing to help frame the conversation, protect the public record and cover the news right here.

And, please, NEVER stop letting us know how we are doing.

Thank you very much for being a regular reader of whatever local news sources you access. They are all important and cannot survive without your involvement, feedback and readership. YOU are the core reason we exist. After all, it's YOUR newspaper.