The times, they are a changin'
I'm back in the office after four years. Back at the same desk. And in the same chair.
My surroundings are nearly identical, except for maybe the color of the paint on the walls.
The editorial staff is virtually the same. They're still here, working each day to bring you the community news you're looking for. Many of our freelancers have been writing columns and covering municipal beats since the very beginning.
People like Julie Beck and Liz Hahn, who started writing for the first edition of the Whitehall-Coplay Press back in 1992. Now they're writing for the Northampton Press and Catasauqua Press too. They, as well as many others, are what community journalism is all about. They love where they live, and they love to write about the great stuff that happens there.
Community newspapers cover stories about your township government, your school district and even your neighborhood. If an event has a national scope, we concentrate on how it affects you locally.
We make sure our readers know that you've celebrated an anniversary, that you're involved in the missions activities at your church and that your child made honor roll or hit a home run at last week's game.
According to a 2014 survey by the National Newspaper Association, about two-thirds of residents in small U.S. communities read their local newspaper.
The results stated that "community newspapers continue to be highly valuable to communities, as 94% of readers agreed that the newspapers were informative; 80% said that they and their families looked forward to reading the newspapers; 78% relied on the newspapers for local news and information; and 72% said the newspapers entertained them.
"These findings imply that the perceived values are true assets of community newspapers and hence should always be reckoned in order for the newspapers to conalways be reckoned in order for the newspapers to continue to play an important role in people's lives in the future, whether in print or online or both."
We've always worked hard to be a "true asset" to you and your family. That has never changed.
What's changed here is the way we bring you the news. We still have the greatest source possible, the printed newspaper that arrives at your door each week.
But now you can access our news online and through social media. Who would have thought?
You can access your community newspaper on our website. It's categorized much like the print version, with links to municipal and school news, police briefs, sports events and so much more.
Now, those of you who know me well know that I don't do Facebook personally - not because I think it's a bad idea, but rather because I'm afraid I'd be sucked into it and checking out what each of my 500-some classmates from Northampton's Class of 1985 are doing right now.
But we editors are on Facebook. Each of our eight weekly newspapers has a Facebook page, where we post blurbs of what you'll find in each week's edition. Friend us.
And we're on Twitter. That's right - we tweet! (My kids think that's hysterical.) But we editors tweet each week while we're finishing up deadline to let you know what you'll find in your paper.
According to the Newspaper Association of America, the digital audience for newspaper content is more than 70 percent of U.S. adults. That's the same percentage for adults who use social networking sites, and that number increases to 90 percent for teens, per the Pew Research Center.
Through our social media efforts, we hope to reach readers of all ages.
At a recent Emerging Mind of Community Journalism conference, sponsored by the University of Alabama, participants were asked to create of list characterizing community journalism. They said community journalism is "intimate, caring and personal; it reflects the community and tells its stories; and it embraces a leadership role."
I hope that's how you'd describe us.
No matter how you choose to access your community news, check us out now.
East Penn Press
Kelly Lutterschmidt is editor of the Whitehall-Coplay Press, Northampton Press and Catasauqua Press.