This column is, in part, a request.
The Record-Eagle is preparing for its Grand Traverse Heritage Center exhibit in June and July, part of a year-long celebration of our 150th birthday.
This column also is a commentary on newspapers today and predictions of their doom.
It's true that the newspaper industry faces serious challenges today, but I don't believe the forecasts, especially after more than a year of researching the Record-Eagle's history, its relationship to Traverse City and the many technological and economic transitions that newspapers, this city and region have survived over the last 15 decades.
A strong symbiotic relationship exists between strong communities and strong newspapers like the Traverse City area and the Record-Eagle. The newspapers, particularly local newspapers committed to their communities, advertisers and readers, will survive and probably adapt new forms for as long as Americans treasure our Bill of Rights and democracy.
What is happening in the industry now isn't about doom. It's about transition, restructuring, reformatting and adjusting to the most rapid technological shift ever -- the Internet. It's uncomfortable, scary and painful, but it isn't going to kill off the need for newspapers and the role they play.
The Internet's impact on lives and minds across the world is as big as the invention of the wheel, Gutenberg's moveable type, Henry Ford's assembly line, radio, TV and the atomic bomb.
Change happens. Formats evolve, but some things remain constant.
Newspapers help maintain a sense of place and community, something precious in a global world. People, businesses, government officials and communities need trained reporters, editors and news organizations committed to accurate, fair and credible reporting that informs, explains and probes to help them make sense of this world we live in. You have only to read a few blogs to understand that.
A city without a strong, independent newspaper is like a town without a school, local government, college, courts, businesses and local sports teams. It has no community forum, no cheerleader, no effective way for advertisers to promote products and services locally and regionally. No organization that probes and explains local issues, that supports good government decisions and questions bad ones, that chronicles individual acts of greatness and goodness in our daily lives.
Newspapers are the foundation of almost all news on wire services, TV and radio broadcasts and the Internet. Even bloggers and talk show hosts feed on them.
Pioneer towns needed strong banks, strong newspapers concerned about the local community to survive.
I don't think that's much different today, but the technology sure is.