Bob Confer

Bob Confer

Last week, one of the newspapers I write for, the Lockport Union Sun & Journal, featured a glossy magazine celebrating 200 years of the newspaper.

200 years!

Two centuries for any business is special.

Two centuries for a print newspaper, given the modern economics of the medium, is extra special.

And, it’s special to me: For most of my 46 years that newspaper has been an important part of my life. Since the fourth grade, I’ve immersed myself in its content. And, since 2005, my column has appeared every week in the US&J.

I regularly let people know my love for that newspaper and newspapers in general. Quite often I speak to large groups at the factory or in the classroom — it could be Leadership Niagara, college students at Brockport, or fifth graders.

When discussing some of the more important tools for leading an organization, making themselves career-ready, or being good citizens, I always mention that they need to read a newspaper, or a few of them, every day.

Their eyes always perk up with curiosity when I say that.

It could be because the topic of acquired contemporary knowledge is rarely discussed as a trait of leadership or citizenship. Or, it may be that a good many people have a rather disdainful view of news in general because of the boisterous “Fake News” propaganda spread by former President Trump or the similar yet far more subtle undertones from his predecessor.

Or, it may be that my audience doesn’t read the paper once a day, let alone once a month, a behavior that has become the norm in this age of the internet and the accessibility of immediate — albeit abbreviated and suspect — information.

To allay their curiosity and warm them up to the daily read, I always lay out just how crucial a newspaper is for good management and good activism.

Every leader, head of household, and engaged citizen must be a Renaissance (wo)man, knowing a little bit — or a lot — about a wide variety of subjects. To effectively do your job and make the appropriate decisions in business — finances, capital investment, product development, and marketing — and in your personal life — savings, investment, buying, and the American concept of self-governance — you have to be aware of what’s happening all around our world, from your neighborhood to some far-flung foreign land.

Why? The global economy and modern technology have made the world a smaller place, a faster place, and we’re all interconnected. What happens here and elsewhere will set off a domino effect that affects you personally and professionally in the short-term or long-term.

For example, a flood in Australia can drive up wheat prices, doing the same to prices at the grocery store in Niagara Falls; a deep freeze in Texas can ultimately shut down production lines hundreds of miles away here in the New York, harming your job; and the town council’s vote on infrastructure might make your water bill go up.

The list is endless.

By being in the know regarding these matters — the major and the minor — you can adjust your operations and your expenditures accordingly, well in advance of your competitors and neighbors. Knowledge is power.

I always tell my audience that they can’t use television news and the internet as shortcuts or as the sole sources of news.

Broadcast news is flawed in that you spend a half–to-one hour in front of the tube and a good portion of that airtime is commercials, while the national news stations — like CNN and Fox News — are agenda-driven and overkill some of the most unimportant stories while putting issues of actual importance on the back burner.

Likewise, the internet does the same, promoting really inane and false garbage. The problem with the web, too, is that its users use it as a filter and scan the headlines, focusing only on cute, horrific or popularized topics.

A newspaper, on the other hand, is created with standards and in its printed form puts the entire world, from a variety of perspectives, in your hand. Local and world news, business, sports and culture are all right there. In the same amount of time you might have spent watching the TV you can ingest a whole newspaper — or a few — and know so much more than you would have learned elsewhere.

You don’t need a degree to be educated. You just need a newspaper like this one. Newspapers can literally make you healthy, wealthy and wise.

Chances are that you’re reading this column in ink so you know that mantra quite well. But, you should also share that belief with your friends and coworkers and get your kids started on it at a young age as I did.

We’ll all be better off for it, for an educated people are a strong people and a successful people.

Long live newspapers!

Bob Confer is a Daily News columnist and president of Confer Plastics. He can be reached at bobconfer@juno.com. You can follow him on Twitter @bobconfer

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