No local papers around here are shutting down to my knowledge. But we’ve seen the detrimental effects of cuts.
A few years ago the NOW sites including Franklin’s dropped all their bloggers, dozens of them. These bloggers wrote exclusively about their communities, often covering local government meetings. That coverage was never replaced.
Today the local news coverage of Franklin in the restructured mysouthnow website is pretty skimpy. They’re not exactly breaking any news bulletins and tend to shy away from controversy.
That happens when a news service and media voices are cut or eliminated. Whole neighborhoods suffer.
That same month I quoted from an on-line article:
New research shows that the decline of newspapers may have taken a toll on cities’ and counties’ budgets…municipal borrowing costs increased by as much as a tenth of a percent after a newspaper shuttered, even when accounting for declining economic conditions.
The reason for these changes, researchers say, is that the closure of a local newspaper creates a “local information vacuum” that is unlikely to be filled by the national news media, which needs to appeal to a much broader audience, or online outlets, which have not generally filled the investigative journalism gap left when a local newspaper shuts down.
From today’s read:
These stories prompted Media Trackers to examine how local media covers local government. We reached out to newspaper editors asking how often they covered local governmental meetings in several Wisconsin communities. We received no response. We then asked local governments about how often the media attends their meetings.
In general, our findings indicate that coverage of local government by media varies…school boards tend to see the least coverage.
Good stuff. I urge you to read it all here.