6 thoughts on “Importance of a local paper”

  1. Totally agree about the need for a *very* local paper. In my small town of Paekakariki (pop 1700) in New Zealand, we had a very active paper staffed by volunteers, edited by a retired journalist and funded by local advertising. Eventually the volunteers ran out of steam and the paper ceased. But recently a local FM radio station, again staffed by volunteers, has come to life. It records fresh programmes on Sundays and they run twice a day for the coming week. It’s not investigative journalism, but it does give space to local issues and people. Long live the parish pump, whatever form it may take! If you want to hear any of it go to paekakariki.org.nz

  2. I think the value is determined by the owner. I worked for a local paper of record in Northwest Missouri for nine years. I can think of several incidents where the political bias of the owners meant less than accurate news being reported. We ended up being sued by an EPA official once after the owner ordered a hatchet job on the man who wrote the original Superfund bill because the owner thought jobs were more important than letting local residents know a toxic waste disposal facility would be belching phosgene gas out of the stack on a normal day’s business. The reporter was so distressed with what he did that he quit and took his family to Africa to work for Habitat for Humanity.

    There were plenty of other incidents. So it takes the commitment of the owner to tell news accurately and fairly, or news will not be reported to the benefit of society. So the Globe and the Post are both apparently in good hands. The San Diego Union-Tribune is not. The owner of that paper is turning what was once a good (though often extremely conservative) newspaper into a mouthpiece for the Chamber of Commerce. I am so glad I got out of the business 14 years ago. I would not be able to keep my job these days at many newspapers where compromise and business interests always trump good stewardship.

  3. The history of newspapers if more than a bit checkered as illustrated in the movie KANE. Very rich men have owned papers or even chains of papers and promoted their views, whether on Slavery or War with Spain or or or, but also other voices, think of underground paper in the 60s and 70s. So I am delighted that flagship newspapers are still around even if owned by rich people with an agenda, but I am also hopeful that small papers will survive and few thrive but also the other way voices are heard on the INTERNET.

    The question is what is the business model for newspapers and serious journalists that allow them to exist and publish the breadth, depth, and diversity we so cherish- I remain confused, anxious, and very uncertain.

  4. Politicians pay a lot of attention to what is written in public even when the publication itself isn’t as influential as it once was, such as the SF Chronicle — it just needs the will to do it — it used be called muckraking. Also, local online sites can put a lot of pressure on local governments to do the right thing. Again, it requires will and dogged stubbornness to continually report on issues that matter.

    However, if we have to rely on local billionaires to prop up the means of production then we are in trouble. The greatest failure of the Internet is that we haven’t figured out a sustainable business model for producing local news media. In most places, even if 100% of the population were reading the local press it still wouldn’t amount to much in terms of the numbers that need to be reached to make an advertising model work.

    All the billionaires buying newspapers should get together and develop a sustainable business model for local news. It would encourage competition amongst news organizations and it wouldn’t require the pity of a local billionaire to remain in production.

  5. Maybe if the SF Comical spent a little more time improving the the abysmal quality of their iPad app, rather than worrying about what some football team on the other side of the country chooses to call itself, it might be something that more people would choose to subscribe to. (BTW, I just cancelled my subscription as a result of that BS politically correct move.)

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