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Editorial: If newspapers go away, what then?

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Don't be too quick to write off newspapers, even as the industry struggles to adapt to the financial struggles of the digital age.

Here are a few reasons from the National Newspaper Association why newspapers will be relevant far into the future:

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A key area of strength for newspapers is good old-fashioned accurate and balanced journalism.

So you get all your news from the web? Take a look at how much of that news is generated by reporters at newspapers.

Blogs are nice, but newspapers are still producing the vast majority of quality journalism. Just because Google takes it and puts the headline and first paragraph online doesn't negate that fact.

Readers still appreciate quality journalism by trained reporters and informed judgments by crotchety editors about news content and sources.

Talk radio may spend a lot of time blasting the media, but listen closely and you'll realize most of the topics they're blustering about came from newspaper stories.

Digital news is the obvious up-and-comer, and newspapers are all over it, and have been for a while -- but let's not be too quick to bury print.

For a lot of people, print continues to be the best way to find out what's going on locally, and find good advertising deals.

Pew Research Center has reported that newspapers are the top source (or tied for the top) in 11 of 16 news topics explored.

And according to Magid's research for NAA, consumers overwhelmingly view ads in newspapers as more believable and trustworthy than those in any other medium.

That's because newspaper people -- flawed as we are -- put a high premium on the accuracy and quality of our work, be it in advertising or news.

There is a lot of concern about the future of newspapers, driven by anxiety about the potential disappearance of the vital role newspapers serve in our society.

That anxiety is understandable. The reality is that industry leaders are working hard and smart to make sure that doesn't happen.

The pundits may write us off. The marketplace has not.

Research shows that newspapers are already the most trusted media brands in local markets. They are working harder to maintain their position as the hub of community information, activity and conversation.

Why will newspapers survive? Because the assets and value they historically have provided to both readers and advertisers are enduring and sustainable in this new digital ecosystem, as the data show.

Newspaper people are not naïve, nor are they in denial about the challenges facing the industry.

The risks are high. Newspapers and representative democracy have gone together since the birth of the nation. In a lot of communities, newspapers are alone in covering local government.

An informed electorate is in a much better position to govern itself. If newspapers go away, who will fill the void?

This editorial represents the opinions of the Forum Communications-owned Detroit Lakes newspapers editorial board.

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