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Dean Riding: Grateful for local newspapers

Thanksgiving is a great time for counting our blessings and expressing gratitude. In challenging times, an attitude of gratitude is all the more important, and this year has been one of the most difficult for so many!

Nevertheless, we’ve seen many people in communities across our country who have risen to the occasion and gone above and beyond to serve their fellow citizens in the face of all of the difficulties and heartbreak that COVID-19 has wrought.

I’m grateful to the first responders and health care workers for their tireless efforts to protect and care for our communities in the face of uncertain and often dangerous circumstances.

I’m grateful to teachers and educators for their dedication to education and their ability to adapt to unusual learning environments. And I’m grateful to parents who, all of a sudden, have found themselves in home school situations, needing to remember the basics of math, English and science.

I’m grateful to local businesses for their dedication and perseverance and creativity to continue to serve their customers through curbside, delivery and online options.

I’m grateful to restaurants and grocery stores for continuing to safely serve and provide for their customers day in and day out.

I’m grateful to our houses of worship where we can lift our hearts and find renewed strength.

And as the CEO of an association representing the newspaper industry, I’m also very grateful to the daily and weekly newspapers across this country who put it all on the line every day of the year, and to the readers who support their vital work.

I’m proud of the work these newspapers do, and I hope you will join me in expressing your appreciation to them. It’s not easy hearing people challenge your motives with repeated taunts of “fake news.” From personal connections, I know how much the publishers and editors of these newspapers care about their communities and the work their staffs do.

The importance of local newspapers has never been more evident than in the past year. Even though the major stories of the year were national — COVID, the elections, the economy, racial injustice and more — the impact has always been local.

The reporters at your local newspaper are your neighbors. They are part of your community, and I know that they care about what happens there. They provide vital information to protect the health and safety of the public, with news about crime, local schools, local government, steps being taken to address the spread of COVID, local trends and more.

They’ve kept us informed with detailed information about businesses that are open, creative ideas for things to do at home, outdoor entertainment options and tips for addressing the challenges of working remotely.

And, they have performed a vital role in protecting democracy and informing readers during the often-contentious election process. In a season filled with misinformation fueled by one-sided digital sites and cable news channels, local newspapers were relied on to provide fair coverage of the issues that mattered the most to readers.

This Thanksgiving, newspapers are also giving us a fun, new way to share our gratitude with those around us. They invite you to look into your heart and share the things for which you’re most grateful — health, family, faith, friends, pets or anything else — on a new, national Share Gratitude platform: ShareGratitude2020.com. You can even include a video message or post a photo to the site.

Local newspapers have supported all of us through this difficult year and now they need our support as well. Consider subscribing to your local newspaper, in print or online, to show your thanks for the job they do each and every day and to ensure that they can continue to keep your community fully informed in the days ahead. Thank you for reading the newspaper, and Happy Thanksgiving!

On behalf of its approximately 1,500 newspaper and associate member companies, America’s Newspapers is committed to explaining, defending and advancing the vital role of newspapers in democracy and civil life. We put an emphasis on educating the public on all the ways newspapers contribute to building a community identity and the success of local businesses. Learn more: www.newspapers.org

Dean Ridings is the CEO of America’s Newspapers, the largest newspaper association in the U.S.