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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

 Support your local newspaper.

Please.

I've been talking with folks from cities where I've worked recently and they have continued to support me personally. That's truly a wonderful feeling.

But as a means of support, they've denigrated what's become of some of the newspapers from which I have departed. Worse, in some cases, they've said they've quit buying their local newspaper.

As someone who's taken reader complaints in high school, college and then 30 years of professional journalism, stopping your subscription is not a sign of integrity to me. So stop bragging about it.

If you want to show me integrity, tell me how you buy the newspaper even though it's changed. Explain what you have found of value in the newspaper. Tell me what you've learned.

When you tell me you read a publication and neither found value nor learned, that says much more about you than the publication.

Before my layoff and before COVID-19, I ran into some kind of IU dean at the Uptown Cafe. When I suggested she should buy the local newspaper to stay informed, she said when there was something she needed to read from the Herald-Times, she'd find it free on reddit. 

So she wasn't just uninformed.

She was cheap, too.

The local newspaper isn't just the best source of local news, the institution remains important. At least one study has shown that when a U.S. city loses its newspaper, municipal and school budgets tend to balloon. Why? Because the elected officials know no one is watching.

Sadly, I can't count the number of contacts I've had with people over three decades who say they support local news but they're dropping the paper because of (fill in the blank). No, you don't support local news.

Our founders thought newspapers so fundamental to this experiment of citizen-run government they enshrined it in the First Amendment and made it the only business named in the Constitution. And every single one of them had his own beef with journalists. George Washington was the first president to cite "the press" as a reason to retire after two terms.

If you support Democracy in America, then buy a damn paper.


4 comments:

  1. Yup. We still get the H-T, and I pay for my morning online updates frm the NYT and The Economist. I grit my teeth about getting the H-T at close to 8AM nowadays, but now I just read it over lunch rather than over breakfast. I do understand the need to support the institution.

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  2. 8 A.M.! My paper arrived anywhere from 6 A.M. to 2 P.M. and sometimes the next day. The H-T does not seem to care vabout service.

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  3. I subscribe to the HT online. They still make money. I still get news. I can read it over breakfast if I want. I’m not drowning in paper.
    Now I’m drowning in cardboard because I’m shopping online due to the pandemic, but that’s not the paper’s fault.

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  4. I did drop The Derrick. Stopped writing letters to the editor. I recall you not being pleased. Twas not only a gesture of support for you. I was weary of speaking into the void inhabited by bucolic Republicans. And that was before Trump, who added incendiary itch powder to social interaction.

    I am retired now. Live in a valley at the end of a largely abandoned road, in a forgotten corner of Venango County. I rarely go into town. But when I do, I shall purchase a Derrick. FYI, Derrick ain’t been much without you. I’d be getting much more buck bang, if you were here.

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