Reader's View: The bad guys have changed in loss of local news

Will you, unlike most Americans polled, miss your newspaper when it’s gone?

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In 2009, I wrote a pair of articles about the hand-wringing taking place with regard to the newspaper business. When I read the News Tribune’s editorial on June 1 appealing for the future of local journalism (Our View: “ Ensure fairness for future of local news ”), I recalled my articles because I had thought about this issue quite a bit by then.

In the editorial, Facebook and Google were painted as the bad guys. Back in 2009, two other culprits stood center stage: the Internet and newspapers themselves.

Paul Starr, in the New Republic, asserted at the time that the diminished strength of our nation's newspapers will have serious ramifications in our culture, politics, and our experience of democracy. This was the angle Sen. Amy Klobuchar has taken and the editorial took. Rally around the flag. Support free-press journalism.

Yet, how long has it been since the News Tribune has done real digging into the multitude of issues facing the Northland? Nearly everything reported is from a press conference statement or a spin from the powers that be.

In 2009 I wrote, “That newspapers are shrinking in size is self-evident. Our local Duluth News-Tribune is half what it used to be, if that. And all across the country journalists are being ushered into early retirement or alternative careers, many in the public relations sphere. Declining ad revenues (e.g. due to Craigslist, eBay) are the chief culprit, as well as declining circulation numbers. The newspapers can't support the staff.”


I then cited an article from by Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He wrote, "Newspapers are vital, but they have failed us." The title of his article said it all.

Will you, unlike most Americans polled, miss your newspaper when it’s gone? How much will the decline of the paper hurt our democracy?

Ed Newman


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