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Column: Newspapers provide vital service to community

It’s National Newspaper Week.

At the Aiken Standard and The Star of North Augusta, every week is newspaper week for us. It’s our job and for many of us it’s our passion to deliver news and information on multiple platforms in a timely manner.

Today marks the start of the 81st annual celebration that recognizes the “service of newspapers and their employees across North America and is sponsored by Newspaper Association Managers,” according to the group’s website.

“Community Forum” is this year’s theme, and I think that’s an appropriate one. Newspapers often drive the conversation and promote dialogue on important topics in their communities.

The past year has been a busy one. We are still dealing with COVID-19 and all the turmoil it has caused. There was a presidential election and a new administration sworn in.

The First Amendment and freedom of the press are essential to our country. According to literature prepared for National Newspaper Week, journalists “act as trusted watchdogs of government transparency.”

That is of particular importance to us. There has been plenty of money flowing into our county and state from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. Also, don’t forget the $525 million plutonium settlement that was negotiated last year.

How those funds are handled and appropriated is of vital importance. It’s our duty as journalists to keep an eye on how our local governments allocate those resources.

The Aiken Standard has been the county’s “trusted local source of news and information since 1867.” In North Augusta, The Star has been on the scene for more than six decades. We’re not new to covering Aiken County.

What is new for us is the start of our Public Service and Investigative Fund. As newspapers fight for advertising and marketing dollars, many have had to cut back staff or have gone away altogether. And when that happens, creating “news deserts,” guess what happens? Taxpayer money is more likely to be misused when no one is watching.

Our fund, set up through the Community Foundation of the CSRA, is fully tax deductible. On the investigative side, we have delved into the Town of Wagener’s finances and problems within its fire department. On the public service side, we took a look at the history of B&W Truck Center and efforts to clean it up through the years.

Rest assured we have plenty more in store for 2022 as the Aiken Standard celebrates its 155th year.

Even if the big stories and deep dives aren’t your thing, there is still plenty of news and information for you to consume in the newspaper. Maybe you get a kick out of reading the comics or doing the puzzles. Some of you enjoy the Portrait of the Past and the Things to do list on Page 2A.

The important thing for you to know is that we enjoy serving the community and plan to do so for many years to come.

Thanks for reading.

John Boyette is executive editor of the Aiken Standard. Reach him at or 803-644-2364.

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