News & Views — Is Our Local Newspaper In Danger of Extinction?

When I was a little kid I can distinctly remember Sunday mornings over at my dad & grandparent’s house.  My dad and great aunt lived on the first floor, grandparents upstairs, in a typical Boston style two family home and my sister and I spent most Sundays over there, hanging with my dad, after my parents got divorced.  All morning long the house was pin-drop quiet as everyone took their favorite section of the 300 some odd page Boston Globe and devoured the information provided on everything going on around the city.

Back then the world was small but the paper was huge.  Boston was nothing more than a speck on a map, and although things were always happening around the globe, we never really had to know about most of them.  Sure the Globe featured world stories, but the handful of cherry picked broadcasts were nothing in comparison to today’s information overload.

With the internet we can get our news anywhere, anytime.  Heck, I’m even on board with it as I have the San Diego Union Tribune link in my own list of favorites, but that begs the question — if we care more about what is happening globally, how can we ever elicit changes locally?

I posed the question: ‘where do you get your news’ to the team and I was delighted by the number of responses I received.  Also, I was thoroughly surprised with the choices we all make to get our news.  It isn’t exactly what one might expect!

Our team is primarily made up of web based news readers, only one or two watch television, a couple are radio buffs (NPR or other public radio) and some of you do still read your local newspapers!  Because our team is so committed to the environment at large I was excited to hear how many of us do in fact exert the majority of our attention onto our local news media.  After all, the old adage ‘Think Globally, Act Locally’ still applies.  Above and beyond anything else, our team is a well informed bunch!

Wyn of Wynsome is one of those internet based news gals.  She is an avid reader of BBC for her international news but admits “for domestic I scan many sources”.  She is not alone.  Alex from alexkeller told me that she watches “very little TV” but gets her news “mostly on line”.  Tanja of tanjasova, who has strong ties in Serbia, was kind enough to give me the international angle on why she uses the internet as her main source for news:

“Bombardment in 1999 also contributed [to] relying upon [the] internet – we were warned to prepare food and water from people who had information (mostly expats who could have access to CNN and SKY news, as most of [the] media in Serbia was blocked). As you can tell, years of conditioning of getting information and comparing information (one source was not enough to have a complete picture), kind of spoiled me to get all the news from the web.”

There are other reasons to forgo the physical newspaper for the online version and our fearless leader, Karen of EcoKaren, pointed out that her family hasn’t “read a ‘real’ newspaper in two years”, not only because she doesn’t “miss having my fingers all black from touching newspapers!” but also because the NY Times, Huffington Post (or as Karen referred to it “Huffy”), Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal are all available free delivery via email.

That raised a question in my mind about why we do or don’t get a paper delivered any longer — cost and availability.  If just about every paper is delivered, or at least available to read for free, online, why would we ever pay for home delivery?  Jo of Green Springs Body Works just recently cancelled her subscription because their “weekly paper kept getting smaller and smaller” and Elaine of RedorGrayArt admitted she doesn’t really read the paper any longer because there is just “so much bad news”.  That sentiment is echoed by Tammy of tamdoll who noted “I hardly read the newspaper or put on the television (and if I do, it’s not to watch the news — too depressing!)”.

I have felt the same as Tammy on countless occasions about the depressing and overly sensationalized nature of the news these days, and in my own home we rarely, if ever, watch on television.  I like to hear about what is going on in the community but wish to focus on the positive side of things.  Not to mention most of us these days are doing two or three jobs just to get by, from working to raising kids to keeping our homes in order, and it limits the time we can invest in other activities.  Evon of cleverscene told me she was nervous to admit it “but I don’t read the news or watch the news…as a crafter, who’s got the time!?!”.  I can relate.

Although most of our time is limited, there was one team member who’s fiery dedication and loyalty to her local paper made me wonder if maybe it was time to give my own another glance!  Morgen of kootsac is a Canadian resident and ardent reader of her local paper The Valley Voice.  Morgen was happy to share just why she is so dedicated to this publication:

“I live in a village of about 600 people. We have a small biweekly newspaper which is 100% locally owned and serves part of the West Kootenay region where I live in Canada. This kind of newspaper is so rare in this day and age when everything is owned by big corporations or has gone completely online.  I look forward to [the] publication every 2 weeks and read it’s content from cover to cover. It presents mostly local and regional news [stories].  It is grass roots and filled with heart and the valley would never be the same if it were to close.”

Morgen’s passion for her local news source makes me hopeful that there are still good journalists with strong commitments to their local news out there in the world, and hopefully means the answer to my title’s question is a big, resounding NO!

Here in the Boston area we now have most of the local, small publications linked online in one convenient source called Wicked Local.  I have been known to peruse through their links and activity postings to see what is going on around town but, in my own admission, most of my news comes in the form of the internet at large — Yahoo top links, AP, CNN, — and Facebook links that my friends have found relevant plus blogs.  Our house has truly embraced not having a plethora of paper waste while still catching up on current events.

So while the house may not be as quiet as it was at my grandparent’s on a Sunday morning way back when, we have simply replaced the sound of turning pages with the clicking of the keys to bring up the latest URL.

Where do you get your news?

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  1. I thought I was the only one that didn’t want to touch newsprint! Never thought it could be toxic… just touching it gives me an icky feeling in my fingertips… could my body be naturally repulsed by the inks? (And here, I thought I had a weird sort of newsprint phobia..)

    But…. I forgot about my weekly local paper! I do read it cover-to-cover since I like keeping in touch with what’s going on in town – there’s usually someone I know being written about, and news and events that I shouldn’t miss – not too much sensationalism. But I scrub my hands when I’m done with it, too.

  2. As colleen pointed out, I didn’t like the toxic smell or getting my hands dirty but the real reason why I stopped the subscription was because I was just not reading every page and most of it was ending up in the recycle bin. I felt bad about that. It is so much more eco-friendly to read it on line. I do miss the lazy Sunday mornings when I used to read the paper with coffee and a muffin. But our lives got hectic and don’t even have the time to read it in peace anymore. Maybe when kids are off to college and it’s just me and the Mr. and we can go back to reading again…but on the iPad. (You can subscribe up to five magazines for $10 per year on iPad’s!! Now, that’s being green and frugal!)

  3. a wonderful post … our paper keeps getting smaller and smaller…sad but true.

  4. We get the local paper on Sundays and I would hate to think of a Sunday morning without the Asbury Park Press and bagels with cream cheese! My hubby’s business advertises in it, too, sometimes, even though it does not have the readership it once did. It is the only place to get the local news and employs alot of local people. Plus I need it for packing material!

  5. Hi,
    I used to be an avid newspaper reader but have been newspaper free for over 10 years. Part of my decision for skipping the paper was because I found the news in the paper to be a bit biased and incomplete. However, another large factor in my decision was the fact that every time I held a newspaper, not only did I get this toxic ink all over my hands, but I was getting sick from breathing in the fumes from the paper. The smell was horrible and I would sneeze and cough and my eyes would water. I now prefer to get my news from the internet as well as from free public radio where news is NOT underwritten by large corporations. I am glad to be saving trees by not buying a newspaper. The only thing I miss about having a newspaper is they work really well to clean windows and mirrors (despite the ink on the hands)!

  6. thanks so much for the mention! your recollections of taking apart a big newspaper reminded me of doing just the same with The Cleveland Plain Dealer (growing up) and The Chicago Tribune more recently. I sort of miss it … maybe I’ll go buy a paper today!