The North Bend Eagle


Don't worry, your weekly newspaper is still here

Nathan Arneal
Published 10/16/19

Don’t let the front page [featuring the headline "What if there was no local newspaper?] scare you too much. We’re still here, and hope to be for a while.

The newspaper business has always been an interesting one. While, yes, the Eagle is a privately owned business, it also provides a public service. It keeps you informed. It keeps you connected with products, services and events offered in the community. We are a group effort, with the whole community contributing to the paper.

If you want to know what's going on in your community, read the local newspaper.

I’ve been running the North Bend Eagle going on 13 years now. And throughout that time when people find out what I do, they lower their voice to a concerned tone and ask, “How’s that going?”

People are accustomed to the idea that newspapers everywhere are failing. I always replied that the negative factors causing problems at the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe or L.A. Times don’t really affect small-town weeklies. We just don’t have the competition those papers do in huge media markets. You can’t go onto to read about how the Tiger cross country team did. So I was pretty sure we small community newspapers were pretty insulated from the problems being encountered at the top of the industry.

Now, I am not quite so sure. I have even pondered the jarring question of, will I be the last publisher of the North Bend Eagle?

While subscriptions have held relatively steady, and are up overall in the time I’ve owned the Eagle, ad revenue is down somewhat.

I firmly believe if you want everyone in North Bend and Morse Bluff to know about your service, product or event, the best way is through the pages of the North Bend Eagle. We still have the same reach we did 10 years ago. If you want to get new people through the doors of your business, reach out to them in the Eagle. We’re not asking for charity. Let us help you.

So what if there was no more North Bend Eagle?

The following excerpt is from a recent Boston Globe story on the closing of a newspaper in Biddeford, Maine:

The mayor worries for his city because the local newspaper, the Journal Tribune, ended its 135-year run Saturday. The superintendent of schools isn’t sure how he will tell the community what’s happening inside its classrooms. The head of the local food pantry is in mourning; he turned to the same paper when his organization was about to be kicked out of its building.

The three city leaders are distressed. That said, none of them was subscribed to the paper when it published its last issue.

It reminds me of a situation that happened here in North Bend this summer. Someone called city hall to complain about a change in policy. Why didn’t you tell the public this change was coming? they asked.

We did, the city clerk told her. It was in the paper. Didn’t you read your Eagle?
“We don’t get the Eagle,” the caller said.

Well there you go. If you want to be an informed citizen, if you want to know what’s going on in your community, you have to read the local newspaper.

Another source of revenue that is under attack in parts of the country is public notices. In addition to the stories and coverage we provide from public meetings like the school board and city council, public bodies are required to publish their minutes and meeting schedule publicly in newspapers.

Some argue that it would save money to just publish those public notices online. That may be, but what is the point of public notices? To keep you informed about what your government is doing with your money. Decisions affecting the public shouldn’t be made in darkness.

Now, maybe most of you don’t take the time to read public notices, but I guarantee you many stumble across the notices and give them a glance in the pages of the Eagle. How many of you would take the time to actively search out public notices online? A much greater percentage of the public is going to be exposed to notices in a newspaper than if they were buried online somewhere.

And yes, public notices make money for newspapers and helps us survive, and that’s a good thing too, right?

The newspaper industry made a huge mistake when the internet was young in the ‘90s. They gave away their product on their websites and now people expect that news should be free. It’s not. You have to pay people to conduct interviews and research and take photographs and video.

I laugh/cry when I see someone reach out to a writer on Twitter to say, “Hey, I’m really interested in reading your article, but it’s behind a paywall. Can you help me out?” Really?

So please, support local journalism. Not just the Eagle, but other sources you enjoy. Yeah, maybe you can survive just by reading your free 10 Omaha World-Herald or Journal Star articles a month. Or maybe you can kick in $9.95 a month for a digital subscription and make sure someone is still there to write about the Husker, Bluejay, legislative and community news that you enjoy. If you want it to exist, you have to support it or it will go away.

Let’s hope we never have to find out the answer to, “What if there was no local newspaper?”

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