News

Local newspaper reporters who doggedly attend school board, planning commission and city council meetings and who scan police blotters and pore over budgets and contracts are essential cogs in our communities. They serve as the eyes and ears of the public and play a critical role as watchdogs for waste, fraud and abuse and holding officials accountable.

I know this firsthand: I began what became a nearly three-decade journalism career playing this role in Colonie, New York, and later in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Local news allows readers to cut away from national headlines, navigate through some of the biases that plague cable news, and get to the true issues that are affecting their communities. It’s easy to imagine a story like this slipping through the cracks. Only the efforts of Anjeanette Damon and her colleagues at Reno Gazette Journal brought it to the attention of local readers.
The very framework of democracy in America is being weakened by the rapid, widespread demise of local news organizations, particularly small newspapers that once served as trusted providers of information and pillars of their communities, according to Margaret Sullivan, who spoke virtually to a South Dakota audience on Tuesday, June 30.
As Ken Doctor put it on Monday, "this is the mid-year witching hour for the U.S. daily press," with numerous possible outcomes. McClatchy's biggest investor Chatham might end up with the newspaper chain. Or Gannett. Or a group of investors from the "growing civic-good journalism world" who could set up "the country's first major nonprofit newspaper chain."

NewsGuild journalists representing 10 Tribune Publishing Co. publications across the country are launching a collective campaign to return these institutions to local ownership.

In a sweeping vote of no confidence in Tribune’s current leadership, NewsGuild members at publications including The Capital Gazette, The Chicago Tribune, The Hartford Courant, The Morning Call, The Orlando Sentinel, The Virginian-Pilot and more are seeking local investors who recognize that local newspapers are vital community institutions.

Journalists at the Chicago Tribune have resorted to begging for new owners, the Times reported. Some editors have already left. The union launched an ultimately failed campaign to attempt to unseat Alden’s board members. Many reporters have been furloughed—a difficult outcome that was itself a hard-won concession by the union.

“Think about what a strong base that is and how numerous a number is down at the bottom, so it feeds through to the top. The New York Times ultimately depends on what the Capital Gazette writes, in many ways to determine the agenda at the national level,” Abernathy said. Capital journalist Selene San Felice memorialized her slain colleagues and pleaded with the audience to find a way to save The Capital.
The only thing canceling your subscription to a newspaper will do is hasten the death of journalism itself. It will leave your community with even fewer full-time reporters to tell you what local leaders were up to while you weren’t paying attention. It will leave you with a far poorer understanding of the place where you live