For newspapers, that second mission has been called perspective.
As the institutional memory of a town, a newspaper provides information in scale – both to the other events of each day and in relation to its historical significance.
Was last week’s rise of the Savannah River the worst ever? Is a horrific beating representative of downtown crime? Are the Bulldogs the best team because they have been picked to win the SEC East?
As events unfold (the river rises, a couple is beaten, Georgia tops a poll), news is a snapshot of time.
Putting those events in context (not the worst flood ever, not the highest crime rate area of town, writers’ picks don’t always win) provides meaning.
For years, our tools were the written word and the still photograph.
In the digital age, we offer video and audio and photo galleries and databases. These give new context and meaning to the news: To hear the emotion in a witness’s voice, to see the truck falling off the railroad trestle over the Savannah River, to flip through hundreds of photos of friends and neighbors celebrating the Fourth of July, to see a map of crimes.
All of this and more is yours – every day. Free with your subscription, and only a mouse click (or two) away.
Surprisingly, only about 19 percent of our subscribers have activated their accounts. If you haven’t activated, a new experience awaits in 10 easy steps.
Step 1. Take this newspaper section to your computer.
Step 2. Launch an Internet browser. (The sign-up process works with Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer.)
Step 3. Type augustachronicle.com into the address bar.
Step 4. Find the orange rectangle on the right-hand side and click the word “ACTIVATE.”
Step 5. When the screen changes, click the orange “ACTIVATE NOW” tab.
Step 6. After the green box appears, read the text and click the green “NEXT” button in the lower right-hand corner.
Step 7. Read the text and click the green “NEXT” button.
Step 8. Fill in your name and e-mail address. Choose a password and a security question. Check the “Accept the Press+ Terms” box and click the green “CONTINUE” button.
Step 9. This will seem a little redundant, sorry, but it needs your name again. Add your print subscription address and phone number. Click submit.
Step 10. When an e-mail arrives, follow the link to sign in for the first time. Use the user name and password for your iPad or smartphone, as well.
If you reach a stumbling block, call for help. I would love to get your attention and provide meaning in a modern context.