Every week I look at our local newspapers, and before I log off for the night, I look over The Bangor Daily News. I love seeing Aroostook Aspirations Initiative in the paper, and I love seeing local students celebrated, local talents highlighted, and local dreams realized. I grew up with the Aroostook Republican and the Bangor Daily News. There was nothing like seeing my picture in newsprint, and there is still a small thrill when I see my picture in papers today, though I admit I much prefer to see our Gauvin Scholars’ photos. Their successes are worth celebrating, worth protecting, and worth investing in. Our local newspapers are a way for organizations, for employers, and for ordinary citizens to highlight issues, sing praises, and speak out. Local papers help assure that our voices are heard, in more than just a small meeting or forum. Aroostook Aspirations Initiative counts on our local papers to share the news about our exciting growth, our partners, our programs, our Gauvin Scholars, and our donors who make everything we do possible. In May a whole new class of Scholars will begin to appear in the pages of local newspapers. Local newspapers are an example of Aroostook tradition, one that is worth protecting.
Digital may be the way of the future, but I just can’t imagine not having a local paper. I can’t imagine that seeing your picture on the “digital version” of a social media site would ever be a magical as seeing your picture in the printed version of local paper. Every time I have the chance to look through the pages of the Houlton Pioneer Times, The Star Herald, The Aroostook Republican, and the St. John Valley Times, I think about how great it is to have a local paper. Fiddlehead focus is a paper on the brink of the new age, an online, yet County, local, newspaper. I love reading about the different events and the interesting occurrences. Our local papers are entertainment in their own right, they contain their own mixture of gossip and news. Between the front pages, the police beat, court news, and editorials; more information can be hashed and rehashed with a local paper in your hands than any place I know.
There is just something special about a newspaper, and as much as I love social media, it just is not the same. Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Pintrest all have a place in our lives. But for whatever reason, having your picture on any of these social networks isn’t special; it isn’t amazing. Newspapers ARE social media; they were the first kind. In America’s past, newspapers were massively popular. They were the reason the literacy rate in our Country was so high in the 17-1800’s, and are in more movies than I can count. People won’t find Internet posts from a hundred years ago in a wall and oh and ah…but we find newspaper clippings in old walls all over the County, and many of us are excited to see 100-year-old newsprint. That’s special, it’s worth saving, and it’s worth supporting.
Perhaps the local paper is changing, but I for one hope that the newsprint concept, the real paper I hold in my hands on Weekdays, Weekends, and Wednesdays never disappears. I hope that we realize just how vital a local paper is before we lose them all. I hope my grandchildren have the chance to see themselves on the front page of an honestly local paper. I am a realist, but I’m also a traditionalist. Local papers are vital for this County, for this Country. I believe that, and I will buy a local paper for as long as I’m allowed. I’ll enjoy reading the stories, looking at the pictures, learning about the lives of others, and cutting out articles or stories that mean something a little more special. I can’t imagine a future where there is no local paper, and I truly hope I never have to experience it.
Local papers are about closeness, community, and family. AAI is too. Our quality of life is at stake in Aroostook County. Our youth need our help; Aroostook needs our help. It is our turn to assure there is a County to report on in the decades to come. Our Gauvin Scholars, kids whose pictures we’ve clipped for almost a year, receive scholarships to Aroostook colleges and universities, and have mentors, programming, and networks available to them. They have their own spot in history; they have appeared on many pages in our local papers, and new Scholars will begin to appear in our local papers very soon. Help us, help them, help Aroostook. Join the movement to keep Aroostook County strong. Like our page on Facebook (AAI/GauvinFund), visit our website: www.gauvinfund.org, volunteer, donate, and sign up for our newsletter. A change is coming…and hopefully you’ll be able to “read all about it” for years to come.