Facebook announced on Monday that more local news will appear in the feeds of individual users because local news is important and helps to build community.

“People consistently tell us they want to see more local news on Facebook,” said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in a post. “Local news helps us understand the issues that matter in our communities and affect our lives. Research suggests that reading local news is directly correlated with civic engagement. People who know what’s happening around them are more likely to get involved and help make a difference.”

It’s rare that we write about ourselves, but local, quality journalism is essential to the survival of our Republic and we’re glad to hear a billionaire behind a global corporation valued at $500 billion say local news is important.

When a man like Zuckerberg, with a net worth of $76.6 billion, speaks directly about the importance of local news, we believe it’s important to chime in and thank him.

And it’s important to thank our local business community for recognizing the value of local news and believing in the Democrat since 1881.

Many newspaper companies like ours have evolved into digital companies. But with digital, there’s just not always a lot of results for the money that small-to-medium-size businesses (SMBs) can spend — which is often little to nothing.

Yet, those $40-per-week Facebook boosts add up for Zuckerberg while the big-spending global firms eat up newsfeeds and tamp down the SMB ads unless we little guys pony up cash.

The newspaper industry is facing crisis because Main Street remains in crisis with 0% state GDP growth for nearly a decade. But a majority of Mississippians are still reading their local newspaper and advertisers are still getting results. That should count for something.

And even on Facebook, the Democrat dominates locally with more than 17,000 fans, at least twice to three times as many as anybody else in town. The Neshoba County Fair has 13,083 fans.

A Democrat Facebook post this month reached more than 68,000 people, meaning they at least all saw the headline.

More than 200,000 unique visitors went to neshobademocrat.com in 2017, according to Google Analytics.

Out of 400,000 sessions on the website, 151,763 referrals came from Facebook, which was 97% of our total social referrals, Google said.

Top breaking news stories can deliver as many as 15,000 sessions in one day at neshobademocrat.com.

We print 6,200 newspapers every week delivering an average three readers each for a total of nearly 19,000 individuals. Local news matters. Readers want it.

The Democrat is a viable advertising medium in Neshoba County because of local news. Our statistics prove it, the giant Facebook has acknowledged local is king and surveys attest.

From a national perspective, retailing is suffering because executives have embraced everything else under the sun based on what young “experts” are telling them. But Facebook, the god of everything, has just declared that local matters.

A sophisticated digital campaign that includes Facebook, AdWords and web placement is a three-month commitment, experts we’re associated with suggest. Signing up today to promote your sale or event next week is a waste of money unless it’s a lot of money.

Few are going to slap down the $5,000 per month it would take to conquer the mobile app market in East Mississippi.

The Democrat is a local leader in the new digital frontier,  — much like we were with the first offset press in the 1960s — yet still firmly committed to print because we believe print works best because that’s what the surveys say, whether you’re the bank, an automobile dealer or a shoe store.

Investing in local news is investing in the community as certainly as a sponsorship at the ballpark. But that’s been lost on corporate America in the U.S.

“Local news helps build community — both on and offline,” Zuckerberg wrote. “It’s an important part of making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is valuable.”

We all know how “valuable” our time on Facebook is becoming.

The trouble for Zuckerberg is that we in the local news business have figured out Facebook is an abusive relationship that takes everything, including your personal information, and gives back nothing.

When delivered without fear or favor, local news keeps local government accountable. It’s a record of the community, the births, deaths, weddings, sports wins, promotions and lots of other happy news.

We’re evolving to meet the digital needs in today’s ever-changing world. But local news is still important and helps to build our community.

Jim Prince is editor and publisher of the Democrat, president of Prince Newspapers and Digital Media and a past president of the Mississippi Press Association.