Without local journalism Democracy dies in the darkness

By Don Rush

So, it was about 8:45 this past Sunday night and I was getting ready to get some shut-eye before the beginning of the work week. It felt kinda’ weird to be going to bed, it was still relatively light outside and geeze, it only felt like it was 7:45 (stupid Spring Forward Daylight Savings Time). Anyway, I checked ye olde’ social media and emails for the last time of the night.
“Huh,” thought I upon reading a notice that long-time buddy Darin Farough had “tagged” me in a post. Mr. Farough hasn’t tagged me since the neighborhood kids played Tag back in the days when kids played outside on the mean streets in the ghettos of Clarkston (also known as Independence Township in the early 1970s). Interest piqued, I checked the post he wanted me to see.
“Don Rush, thanks for all you do preserving and maintaining Clarkston’s tradition and record of history. Long live our Clarkston News,” Darin posted with a link to an Associated Press article published in the March 10, Washington Post. The accompanying black and white photo was an extreme close-up of the iconic Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Under the name, Washington Post were these italicized words: Democracy Dies In Darkness.
Rut-ro, Raggy.
I clicked the link to an article written by Davids Bauder and Lieb, headlined, Town by town, local journalism is dying in plain sight.
Yikes, another story on the plight of newspapering. On the one hand I thought, “Yes, it’s true, so what can we do to keep local journalism alive in our towns of Oxford, Lake Orion, Clarkston, Ortonville and Goodrich?” On the other hand, thought I, “Is the reporting of this plight only exasperating, further hastening the decline of local newspapering?”
According to the article, since 2018 more than 1,400 cities across the United States have lost their community newspaper.
Wrote the Davids, “The reasons for the closures vary. But the result is that many Americans no longer have someone watching the city council for them, chronicling the soccer exploits of their children or reporting on the kindly neighbor who died.”
For their article, the Davids focused on the town of St. Robert, Mo., a town that last year lost its community newspaper, the Daily Guide. Here’s a bit from that article, quoting people at the loss of their paper . . .
“Losing a newspaper,” said Keith Pritchard, 63, chairman of the board at the Security Bank of Pulaski County and a lifelong resident, “is like losing the heartbeat of a town.”
Pritchard has scrapbooks of news clippings about his three daughters. He wonders: How will young families collect such memories?
Other residents talk with dismay about church picnics or school plays they might have attended but only learn of through Facebook postings after the fact.
“I miss the newspaper, the chance to sit down over a cup of coffee and a bagel or a doughnut … and find out what’s going on in the community,” said Bill Slabaugh, a retiree. Now he talks to friends and “candidly, for the most part, I’m ignorant.”
Beyond the emotions are practical concerns about the loss of an information source.
Like many communities, Waynesville is struggling with a drug problem. The four murders last year were the most in memory, and all were drug-related.
Without a newspaper’s reporting, Waynesville Police Chief Dan Cordova said many in the community are unaware of the extent of the problem. Social media is a resource, but Cordova is concerned about not reaching everyone . . .”  To read the entire article, click here.
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Well, most folks like their community newspaper. Some have been known to do this and leave it outside our front door. Isn’t that littering?

Most folks I meet in and around our towns think of The Citizen, Lake Orion Review, Oxford Leader or Clarkston News, as “their” newspaper; they love it. Not everybody, but most people appreciate what our community newspapers provide. Unfortunately, I think many take it for granted our newspapers will always be here for them. Too, I think folks are apathetic in their support for “their” community newspaper.
So, what do we do? In short:

1. Report on local kids, their achievements in and out of school.
2. Inform locals of what is happening in their neighborhoods and with their local governments.
3. Help local charities and service groups promote their various (and much needed) programs.
4. Keep area residents informed on what businesses in their community have to offer and how those businesses (you) support our community with sponsorships and donations.
5. Grow local business.

Back on my soapbox: Your community newspaper attends and reports on local meetings, sporting events and school activities. We write on the individuals who make our communities unique. We cheer our community achievements and sound the clarion when something amiss needs fixing.
We are a local brick and mortar business. We are invested in our community. We are invested in making sure local business prospers — that folks think local first before going out of the community or online for goods and services.
To our local business community, no other medium who takes your hard-earned money in trade for marketing your goods and services cares as much about our community and promoting shopping, dining and buying locally like us.
And, all this costs money. We rely on locals to subscribe and area business to trust us with a portion of their marketing budgets. It’s a collaborative — a team — operation, each doing their own part. To those who subscribe and use us to market, thank you for your support! To those who don’t, hey, let’s talk. Let’s find out how we can help each other.
Send comments to, DontRushDon@gmail.com

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