Trevor Toczydlowski

People Need Local News — But It May be on Its Last Legs

While what happens in rural Texas or Georgia might not matter at the national level, it matters immensely to the people who live in these small towns and communities. The local news the receive from their television stations or newspapers is their only opportunities to get the news most relevant to them.

Unfortunately the slowing of the newspaper industry hurts small towns like these the most. Big cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles will always have dedicated news coverage because of the sheer amount of news that takes place in cities that size.

That means that people who need their news the most are at the biggest risk of losing it as the news industry slows and transitions. When Gannett purchased many of the small newspaper outlets, it was with the intention of keeping them afloat. Now, even with the financial support than Gannett can provide, these small newsrooms are getting even smaller and the crucial news they provide is becoming less reliable.

While alt-weeklies can fill this void to an extent, they often don’t have the same type of hard news that daily papers have. With the cuts coming to these already depleted newsrooms, the time and effort that is needed for hard news and investigative journalism simply isn’t there.

The slowing of the newspaper industry isn’t a new phenomenon, but the recent cuts to digital-native outlets like Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post did come as a surprise. Many of my peers hoped to get into these industries as they appeared to be more stable than traditional news outlets. While these cuts may be an aberration, it still gives pause to those getting ready to enter the industry.

One relative positive about the cuts that are happening is that many of the journalists being laid off are those with lots of experience and thus requiring a higher salary. Many of the spots that are left empty are being filled with entry-level journalists who can be paid less and be groomed into what the paper wants and needs.

Although I don’t think that the world of journalism is dying, it is certainly slowing down. What it may look like in the future can’t be determined now, but there will still be jobs for those that want to do hard journalism and more specifically do it well.

3 thoughts on “People Need Local News — But It May be on Its Last Legs

  1. Trevor —

    I think you raise a very valid point in that “news deserts” are popping up at an alarming rate because of the continued struggles of networks like Gannet and such, though I think these deserts are only temporary until localized digital-first media enterprises take a strong hold in the industry.

    According to New York Times reporter Daniel Victor, the Times’ overall digital advertising revenue recently surpassed print advertising revenue for the first time. Given that the Times sets trends and the industry follows, I think we’re only a few years off until the trend of growing digital ad profits becomes standard. Though it may be too late for some legacy publications, a strong demand for localized coverage will push for the creation of online news organizations to fill that need.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I definitely agree that its not just that the loss of local news is disheartening, but its that local news plays an integral part in the small communities that rely on it – and losing their local news sources could mean losing coverage of their community for good. I agree that, while physical newspapers may not be able to survive, there is an opening in the market for someone to make local news convenient and accessible in a way that it becomes an everyday part of our news-consuming habits.
    Going off of last week and our talking about innovation, I think this is definitely a time when the market is searching for something to meet its needs. It’s not that people have no interest in their local news, its that the accessibility just isn’t there, and the funding isn’t there to fix that. I think this would be a good time to come up with the next big thing for media to compile all those sources that everyone wants to read and make it easy. Local news is extremely important, no matter how small the community. Losing it would mean losing a big part of our watchdog status and allow things to slip through the cracks unnoticed.

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  3. Your idea is good, I never noticed that small town need newspaper more than the big city. Residents of small towns receive less fresh information than large cities. Although people have the Internet, some fashion clothes, explosive news, these are the characteristics of big cities. For example, Lansing, this is a simple town, people only around MSU for life, people receive news much slower than big cities. This also reflects the difficult environment of newspapers in small towns.

    Liked by 2 people

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