Local journalism cannot continue without a resurgence in support

Local journalism cannot continue without a resurgence in support

Local journalism cannot continue without a resurgence in support
November 07
00:03 2018

The New York Times — which you may have heard President Trump refer to as “the failing New York Times” on more than one occasion — is actually doing pretty well this year financially. The media giant’s third-quarter numbers were released last week, and it is on track to surpass more than $600 million in digital revenue this year, according to Nieman Lab.

But while most of the household names in journalism are sitting pretty when it comes to keeping their lights on, local papers are another story.

In the Nieman Lab article, Joshua Benton writes that local journalism is experiencing an existential crisis, and it is true: The number of newsroom employees dropped from 42,450 in 2016 to 39,210 last year, a number that’s been declining steadily since 2006, according to Pew Research Center.

Fractured local journalism means local communities are being deprived of decisive information that helps them make civic choices and remain aware of what is happening in their communities. This results in residents being left to search for bits and pieces of information to help them make decisions at the polls. When it comes to elections, multiple studies have shown a correlation between lack of local coverage and lack of voter turnout.

Local journalism may not cover international affairs as as much as the media giants, but its coverage is no less vital to individual communities and society at large. Decisions being made in local schools, city board motions affecting residents, impactful trials being held in local courtrooms and so much more are under the jurisdiction of the community journalist — and their abilities and opportunities are being increasingly encroached upon.

The fact of the matter is The New York Times won’t be informing you of city burn bans or new curfew laws.

And without the original legwork performed by some local publications, big media companies wouldn’t have become aware of certain stories at all — stories that often earn them more readers and attribution than the original broken story in the local paper.

Local journalists are at breaking news scenes long before USA Today or the Washington Post can get a reporter out there. When smalltime stories become nationwide coverage and demand national attention, it’s important to remember that it often starts with a local reporter.

Without community journalism, big names in journalism would have no leg to stand on. It’s time we stop seeing small, local papers as inferior stepping stones to the “big leagues.”

Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, wrote in 2015 that journalism’s biggest issue isn’t one of platform competition — print vs. digital vs. social media vs. television — but rather the local sector’s downslide. Local journalism has been affected the most, and its status carries the most implications about the industry as a whole. This, mixed with the changing economics of advertising, spells growing trouble for community-based journalism.

Journalism isn’t a passing fad to hop on board with — it will continue to be a necessity into the future of the country. It is a civic service with the sole intent to inform the public, hold the powerful accountable and hold a mirror to society. Investing in community journalism is investing in the healthy functioning of our country.

Local journalism needs your financial support to maintain its fundamental processes and continue to inform its communities the way only it can. Consider making donations to your local publications to stand in solidarity with the local reporters bringing truth to light everyday because in the current climate, we all need to look out for them.

So what can you do as a consumer of news to help combat the downtick in local journalism funding? Support and subscribe to your local paper, radio station and any other form of journalism serving your community — and don’t just stop at your support for us. Follow the coverage of our friends at KNTU, the Denton Record Chronicle and even the alternative outlets like the Dentonite.

It’s a privilege to be able to serve a local community — but it can’t be done without support.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

About Author

North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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