It’s no secret that local and national newspapers are in trouble. Many could be blown over by a light breeze. Some say good riddance as there are now many other options. But, as usual I take a different stand on this issue.
Some say we need to keep the values, keep the people, keep the lessons learned but get rid of the shareholders and get a better business model. Yes getting rid of the shareholders, meaning those who own the stock and therefore force their bias in reporting, could be a good thing. Just look at what the shareholders did with the Wall Street Journal! But the same benefits could be obtained by less drastic means.
Some say that getting rid of the national papers would make way for more news businesses that are nonprofit local publications. That is also a noble undertaking but it still leaves a big hole that would likely be filled by the likes of Murdock’s very biased Fox News. If the billionaires take control of the major news sources that would kill the idea of a non-biased source for information.
Let’s face it, local newspapers depend on advertising such as car dealers, retailers and movie theaters that for generations filled their pages with ads but that has gone from slow decline to free fall now.
Some say it’s the stories and investigations are the most important and where they come from doesn’t really matter. That is where I basically disagree. I can only give you my personal views on this topic, and it is likely that they will differ in some respect from yours. But, that in itself, is the meaning of a free press.
If the large organization like the Washington Post or the New York Times were to disappear we would likely be adrift in just who we could trust to tell us the truth and to investigate the major wrongs. There are thousands of so-called reporters out there that have more a desire for spin than the truth. You might say that I am one of them via this blog and to some degree you would be right.
We will always need a trusted and reliable major source for our information and to me, that is the two news organizations cited above. They simply have the resources to dig deep to get to the truth that a small local newspaper will never have. If these sources were to suddenly disappear it would definitely be caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) for those seeking truth.
In closing, I do agree that the days of printing paper news are limited but that doesn’t mean that the new organizations that provide the info have to die with them. They are now doing a pretty good job of moving to on-line news. I support both the NYT and WP with on-line subscriptions and I think you should too. We need them to assure a free and open democracy.