The papers keep closing, but we produce most of the news you read, even if you don’t read it from us.
More than a quarter of the country’s newspapers have disappeared in the 15 years to 2020. As are the jobs of half of all journalists. Since 2018, 300 closed newspapers. Studies from the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC show that private equity firms and hedge funds continue to merge into large chains, while advertisers continue to make tough decisions about their spending.
All this while local newspapers surpass local TV, radio and only online channels in news production. According to a study by Duke, while local newspapers made up almost 60% of local content in the 2019 study, they only made up 25% of the outlets sampled.
We need local news.
Social media is not news. It is a platform on which we share news. When Facebook broke earlier this week, where did you go to find out what happened? You might have taken to Twitter for the funny reactions, but you’ve likely taken to a media outlet’s website to find out what’s behind the digital crisis.
This week marks the 81st edition of National Newspaper Week, a time when we recognize the service of newspapers and their employees across North America.
We attend meetings so you don’t have to. Believe me, we know most of you don’t go. We monitor how the people you elect to the local office spend your tax dollars. We file and pay Freedom of Information Act claims on your behalf. We check the facts so you know what is correct.
We spend Friday evenings on the sidelines and Saturdays at community events so you can see what’s going on around you and even save an article if you see yourself or a family member. We show both what happens in school board meetings and classrooms, city council votes and public festivals.
We make sure to correct mistakes and give the mic to all the voices that make up the place we call home.
We keep alive the memory of those who are missing and we remember those who are gone. We celebrate accomplishments and shine the spotlight on wrongdoing.
And we are doing all of this in a time of renaissance for newspapers. Because we will not die. We are reinventing ourselves, we are rebuilding like a phoenix from its ink-stained ashes to deliver community news and relevant national and national stories online, on video, on social media, in podcasts and in your inboxes. . We organize events and contests and promote local businesses.
This year’s theme for National Newspaper Week is “Community Forum,” which is perfect for us. The community is our raison d’être. We are real people who do real work only for the good of the community. We analyze data from what you actually read, and that informs our coverage so we can bring you content that matters to you. We’re five meetings away from our first Local News Advisory Council, where we hear from a group of 24 community leaders, officials, activists and stakeholders on what they want to see covered in their local newspaper.
We want to inform and entertain, celebrate, build and support a more informed and connected community. Because without you there is no us.
Kayla Green is the editor-in-chief of The Sumter Item and Gulf Coast Media in Baldwin County, Alabama.