This is my last week and my last issue with this newspaper. I’m heading back south to be closer to family, go to graduate school and just switch gears a bit. But before I go, I want to thank you for reading and urge you to keep supporting your community paper.
Journalism of all kinds, but particularly the hometown variety, is important and worthwhile work.
It’s not the most essential or critical job there is. It’s not a miracle cure that blasts away the blight of all wrongdoing and suffering. It’s more like an apple a day or an evening stroll, something that makes a person and a community a little bit healthier as long as that person and that community make a habit of it.
Here are some examples.
Local press has been tied to higher voter turnout, more political candidates to pick from, elected officials who literally work more for their constituents and are less likely to be corrupt, and more federal money coming to the community, according to researchers from the University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and elsewhere.
A local paper means lower borrowing costs for cities, according to research from the Brookings Institution, because someone’s keeping an eye on how local money is spent.
A report from the American Economic Association this month found reporting a company’s workplace safety violation leads other businesses nearby to step up their safety compliance.
On and on it goes. But a key point, in my mind, is that these studies didn’t look only at papers that were perfect. There’s no such thing. And every reporter has flaws and shortcomings. I know I’ve ticked off a few people in my couple of years here. Yet the benefits still come.
What matters is the process, the attempt, the recording and explaining, the questioning and confirming of good and bad news alike.
And in my opinion, the paper is the best place to find the news for where you live. It’s not a TV station that parachutes into the occasional event or meeting for 10 minutes. It’s not a radio station stretching over a broad territory. It’s not a Facebook page for rumors and bickering.
Instead this paper is the only outlet consistently going to City Hall meetings and deciphering school budgets. Its reporters keep learning and are held accountable by their bosses and by you. It covers both the big news and the small pieces of daily life: new roundabouts, school honor rolls, neighborhood restaurants and parks, your or your neighbors’ successes and pains.
No one else does that. We’re a small operation, but I’m consistently amazed by the quality of my colleagues’ work and the effort they put into telling this place’s stories.
This paper is on shaky ground. In my time here, our company has been sold, outsourced its page designers around the world, shut down two other local papers, and placed all of its staff on sporadic furloughs during the past couple of months.
You can help the paper stick around and become even better by reading and subscribing, sharing your praises and critiques. Please do so. This paper needs you, too.
“A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both,” James Madison, the fourth U.S. president and the man who first proposed the freedom of the press and other parts of the Bill of Rights, wrote in 1822.
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance,” he continued. “And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”