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January 20, 2009 4:08 am

Community newspapers need to focus on readers

Written by Tribune Staff

A half-dozen Powell Tribune staffers traveled to Cheyenne this past week for the Wyoming Press Association's winter convention.

The convention brings people from newspapers around the state together for interaction, education and competition.

Throughout the three-day convention, conversation consistently turned to how the combination of the Internet and the nation's economy is changing the newspaper business, forcing staff reductions, closures and restructures across the country.

The good news for those of us in small-town Wyoming is that community newspapers continue to fill an important role in our lives. Google can help us learn almost anything about the world around us, but to keep up on happenings and events in our own backyards, we still rely on local newspapers.

In turn, those papers must focus on the needs of their readers: What do they care about? What do readers want to know? What's most important?

It's not that this challenge hasn't presented itself before. Powell's centennial year, 2009, also marks 100 years for the Powell Tribune. In earlier decades, local newspapers were threatened by the advent of radio, then television and other new technologies. Somehow, community newspapers have survived — mostly by continuing to focus on the lives and needs of their readership.

Rest assured that, as we enter the Tribune's second century, our focus will remain on our readers.