I have an announcement to make ...

I wanted to take this opportunity today to make sure you know that The Evening Sun still takes part in the ancient newspaper custom of social announcements – you know, births, engagements and weddings (although preferably not in that order, but I try not to judge).

Social announcements are a tried-and-true staple of community journalism, and a centerpiece of many a family scrapbook. Back in the day, we published pretty near an entire page of these announcements every Thursday – now, we’re down to once a month, if that.

I’m not sure why that is really, except to conjecture that Facebook’s immediacy has taken the place of a static print record of major family events (here’s where I’m guilty of joining my whiny newspaper brethren by blaming everything on Facebook, I suppose). Which is too bad, really, because although that online photo album will get a lot of hits, there’s nothing to guarantee that it will be preserved for all eternity, if even in the form of a yellowing newspaper clipping.

Although we don’t seem to get as many as we used to, we still do publish announcements of births, engagements and weddings – for free. Maybe that’s what’s holding people back from entering these events into the public record? Again, folks, it’s free!

There was a time (pre-1996, in fact) before HIPAA laws went into effect that Chenango Memorial provided us with a daily listing of admissions, discharges and births. It was quite a popular item, appearing along with the obits and police blotter on the “For the Record” page. As the police reporter at the time, it was my duty to trudge up to the hospital every day and get them (yes, in a time before e-mail). That was the usual way couples got the news of their bouncy bundles of joy printed in the newspaper, and it worked for years. Somewhere, I have a brittle copy of my own. But then we got all concerned about privacy and that practice stopped.

Still, all you have to do to get a birth announcement in the paper is to fill out a form yourself. Yes, an actual paper form. It’s the only holdout to my digital-only preference, only because many years ago I was an unwitting participant in a faked birth announcement that was phoned in. You read that right – fake birth announcement. Ever since, I’ve sadly had to refuse to take people at their word – now there’s a form which you must sign, asserting that the information is true. But it’s still done at no charge, and it’s easy to do.

We also have forms available to follow for engagement and wedding announcements – and they’re also available as PDFs to be sent via e-mail. They prompt you for all the pertinent information, but you can choose the details you want known yourself. I also encourage people to just write up their own, freestyle, and send them in vial e-mail with a photo. Again, by doing so, you endorse the information as being true and correct, and we require contact information and keep records of who sent in what and when. But unlike the dreaded fake baby fiasco of ‘92, if you’re going to go all-out and fake a wedding photo to go along with it ... well, on second thought, I don’t want to give anyone any ideas. Fool me once ...

My preoccupation with trickery notwithstanding, these “lifestyle” announcements really are a great way to share your special events with the entire community if you so choose. In addition to the aforementioned events, we also publish, again for free, announcements of significant anniversaries – 25, 50, etc. Although, I suppose in this day and age, even 1 is a milestone.

If you have any questions about putting a social announcement in The Evening Sun, please feel free to e-mail me at jgenung@evesun.com and I’ll help you spread the good news. Did I mention it’s free?

Follow me on Twitter .... @evesunjeff

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