National debate comes home to North'd County

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As expected, our feature last Sunday detailing the plight of a local illegal immigrant resulted in considerable reader response.

Newspaper editors can seldom accurately judge what reaction will be to coverage of a controversial topic, and almost always there is an angle that takes us by surprise.

Such as the reader who suggested we are suddenly a "bleeding heart" publication that is pro-illegal immigration.

Such as the reader who suggested the subject of our interview, who we called "Ashley," is taking her share of government benefits with nothing in return, when in fact she takes no benefits but does pay income taxes.

Such as the reader who said "Ashley" should learn how to speak English, despite the story's very clear premise that she is in all ways "American," having been here since age 4. In fact, she speaks English very well, graduated from a local high school and was even accepted for enrollment at Bloomsburg University.

We are confident most readers, however, accepted the story as we intended: A chance to localize a hotly debated national topic with the emotional tale of a young Northumberland County adult who had no choice in arriving in the U.S. illegally, and wants nothing more than to become a full-fledged citizen.

From there, let the discussion begin as to how and if that should happen. But we weren't going to pass up the chance for a Northumberland County resident to cast a fascinating local light on this national debate.

Trusting in print

"New research has revealed that despite important changes in media consumption in recent years, consumers continue to have most trust in advertising in printed media."

That quote from a recent Editor & Publisher magazine story caught my eye. The story was based on a survey done in Europe, but in this age of worldwide media opportunity it's relevance is global.

Asked how much trust they attach to advertising in various media, consumers gave magazines and newspapers a score of 63 percent, TV 41 percent and Internet 25 percent, according to E&P's report. Consumers were also asked about the role of advertising in purchase decision-making, and almost seven out of 10 said that advertising in magazines and newspapers was most important in supporting purchase decisions.

The purpose of the research was to gain insight into the role of printed media in consumers' everyday lives as well as gauge consumer attitudes towards advertising in different channels.

I'm more interested in the context of news rather than advertising. A fear among news organizations ever since the dawn of the Internet and now with social media is that we won't be necessary amid the many sources of information available. But it's been proven time and again that there's one element of a true news organization that keeps us relevant no matter the "competition" that exists in the digital world, and that is trust.

(Heintzelman, editor of The News-Item, writes "The Week In News" for each Saturday edition.)

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