As president of the South Dakota Newspaper Association, I want to emphasize the importance of a free press and National Newspaper Week. This week marks the 81st annual observance of Newspaper Week.

For centuries, newspapers have been an important industry all over the world. Newspapers always have been and continue to be a vital source of information for our communities and a permanent repository of our community’s history.

I am the third generation of my family in the newspaper business. I grew up watching my grandpa, Les, and father, Don, work with the newspapers for many years before I came to work for our operation in 2007.

During my time in the newspaper industry, I have seen many changes in the process of producing a newspaper, from shooting negatives in the darkroom, hand-developing plates, to now going straight from computer to press-ready plates. In my early years, we were taking pictures with a 35-mm camera and film, hoping the lighting was right and we got a quality picture. Now, we have the fancy digital cameras that make it easier to get those great pictures of an event. As we look back over the many years, one thing is unchanged and has stood the test of time: fair, honest and consistent coverage of our communities. Our commitment to covering local community events and school activities, as well as being an independent watchdog to keep our local elected officials accountable, will never change.

With ever-changing technology in the world today, we too have had to evolve and adapt, but rest assured we are still the same trusted source of news you have come to expect. Yes, we still put ink on paper, but we also utilize digital platforms to give you the best coverage we can provide.

Using online platforms does have its downfalls. As I am writing this, Facebook and other online media platforms are currently down. I’m not sure why – whether it is a simple server issue or part of the whistleblower bomb shell report that just came out. Regardless of the reason, remember, with the tried and true newspaper, we are always available with the trusted information you need. It can’t be anonymous, edited, hidden or deleted. We take pride in the fact that what we publish, is forever.

So, please continue to support newspapers as we strive to provide you with local news and protect your right to know for many years to come.

Beau Ravellette is the 2020-21 president of SDNA, which represents 115 weekly and daily newspapers across South Dakota. He is the general manager at Ravellette Publications and its six weekly newspapers serving the communities of Philip, Bison, Faith, Kadoka, Murdo and Wall.