The decline of newspapers
It’s no secret that times are tough for newspapers across the United States. I’ve seen some folks celebrate that fact, but the truth is that the decline of newspapers is going to have an effect on our society, and it won’t be positive.
A New York Times story published over the weekend reported that one in five papers in the United States has closed down over the past 15 years. It examined the effects these closures have had — especially in smaller communities that often don’t have another reliable news outlet.
Residents of those smaller communities said they feel less informed about what’s happening there.
“Local stories about mayoral races, city and county council races, commissions, library activities and school board decisions are all missing since our local weekly newspaper, The Issaquah Press, went dark,” the Times quoted Margaret Buckwitz of Issaquah, Wash., as saying. “I miss the photos, the letters to the editor, the obituaries and the wonderful tone of the paper that we got every week for 38 years, until it stopped publication in February 2017 after 117 years.”
I should make the point that we are fortunate at Carroll County Newspapers. We have the kind of community and advertising support that some small newspapers don’t have, and we appreciate that very much. Our intention is to keep doing what we do for many years.
But we don’t have to look very far to see what’s happening to our industry.
Several small newspapers have closed in Arkansas over the past year. Even the statewide paper has been forced to make changes, drastically reducing its print distribution. That followed several rounds of layoffs stretching back more than 10 years. I know that story personally, having been laid off along with about 30 others on one very unpleasant day in May 2009.
Not long ago, someone posted a photo of our newsroom “Christmas Card,” from the Pine Bluff Commercial in 1994. I was the sports editor then, overseeing a staff of four in that department alone. Altogether, there were 25 people in that newsroom staff photo. Now, there are probably five or fewer folks in that newsroom.
Every day that I come to work, I count my blessings to still be doing a job I love. As an added bonus, I get to do it in a place that I love, that has grown to become my home.
For all of you who read this column, and for all of you that understand how important a local newspaper is, for those who support us by buying subscriptions and by advertising with us, thank you.
And of course, Merry Christmas!