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Shop local. Eat local. Read local.

I’ve written at length in this column about all the benefits a newspaper brings to its community.

Based on numerous research projects around the country examining the community effects after a newspaper closes, we can say newspapers reduce the risk of government fraud, reduce government spending and debt, increase voter participation, and support a thriving network of small, local businesses that bring character and quality of life to their communities.

Every person who works for The News helps make Northeast Michigan a better place each day, from our advertising consultants helping small businesses tell their stories to the press crew printing our paper to the mailroom crew and carriers getting the paper to you to our front-office staff helping our customers to the newsroom bringing you award-winning journalism day in and out.

Every subscriber and advertiser who supports our mission also helps make Northeast Michigan a better place.

I’ve talked about all that, but I’ve talked little in my columns about another important role newspapers play in their communities: that of the local business.

We help Northeast Michigan businesses tell their stories and attract customers through advertising and our commercial printing services, which helps those businesses contribute to our economy.

But The News itself contributes mightily to Northeast Michigan’s economic well-being and its culture.

Yes, the Wheeling, West Virginia-based Ogden Newspapers owns us, but we — like most newspapers around the country — operate very much like a locally owned outfit. I and my department heads make most business decisions right from my office, and we spend as much money as possible right here in our community.

Since March 5, we’ve spent nearly $14,000 on local contractors and suppliers to keep The News running, everything from cleaning services to our water bill and taxes to supplies used in our pressroom and mailroom. That’s money flowing into Northeast Michigan to keep police cars and fire trucks on the streets and to keep local businesses running, so they can help keep food on the tables of their employees.

That’s in addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars we’ll spend this year on paychecks for the hardworking Northeast Michiganders who make your newspaper possible every day, which they then spend in local stores and restaurants and charities.

But a newspaper contributes more than money to its communities.

In our pages, you’ll find not only straightforward news stories keeping you up to date on the latest actions of your local governments or upcoming events, but also great storytelling and features writing in the voices of Northeast Michiganders, about Northeast Michiganders and the lives they live.

See, for example, every story Darby Hinkley (an Alpena-born writer) pens on her Lifestyles page, covering everything from local artists and musicians and actors to a woman detailing the struggles of an autism diagnosis in adulthood.

Darby’s subject matter covers Northeast Michigan culture, but the writing itself is Northeast Michigan culture.

We make space for other Northeast Michiganders to write, from Tom Brindley, Doris Puls, Lesslee Dort, Sue Nagy, and Willieoma Roznowski on Darby’s Lifestyles page to Doug Pugh, Jackie Krawczak, Anne Gentry, Greg Awtry, and Eric Paul Roorda on the Commentary page to Greg Corace and Chris Engle on the Outdoors page to Michelle Smith, Loretta Beyer, and Amy Will’s Everyday Faith columns, we help local folks write stories for local folks about local folks.

That’s Northeast Michigan culture, preserved forever in our archives, backed up at the Alpena County Library, to eventually become Northeast Michigan history.

We shop local to support local retailers, to support our community.

We eat local to support local farmers and local restaurants, to support our community.

And we should read local — wherever we are — to support our local paper, to support our community.

Justin A. Hinkley can be reached at 989-354-3112 or jhinkley@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinHinkley.

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