Local papers deserve our support
Let me be clear: I have no professional relationship with journalism. My views speak solely to what happens to our communities without good journalism from local newspapers, and why we must support them with advertising and subscriptions.
Two foundations of our nation — Free Speech and a Free Press — are essential to the citizens' ability to check and balance the functions of our communities. If we are unaware of decisions made on our behalf by local and state government, there is no accountability. The same is true for local schools and any other entity, including business.
Democracy cannot survive in a vacuum. Knowledge is the backbone of our republic.
Why am I concerned? Since the development of the internet, local publications have lost business revenues and 65 percent of their staffing. Nationwide, buyouts have eliminated independent, locally owned, community-focused newspapers.
The locally-owned Eugene Register-Guard was bought last year by New Media/GateHouse, which owns 432 newspapers in 32 states. Gannett Media has 258 newspapers in 34 states. Digital First, the third-largest company, owns 208 papers in 15 states.
If you believe the major media groups really care about local in-depth reporting, you simply misunderstand the economics of their intent.
Western Communications, Oregon-based owner of the Bend Bulletin and other publications, has filed a second time for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11. Across the country, independent newspapers face similar challenges.
The internet is a reality of modern society, and I support the inter-relationship with local newspapers. However, most internet-based sources give us mere snippets of information, failing to answer the fundamental journalism questions: who, what, when, where and why.
Without those answers, individuals and businesses cannot understand and impact local issues and concerns. We are on the verge of losing our democracy because we don't have the knowledge to make logical decisions.
In recent years, we have been inundated with a barrage of claims about "fake news" and "alternative facts." Let's be clear: Facts are facts; there are no "alternatives." And we have always had a measure of "fake news" — in my day, we called it "gossip."
If you share my concerns about "the divisions within our country," we must return to believing in our institutions of government and journalism. I am sure that most of us do, but we are guilty of being silent and not supporting that which we know we must have.
Do you want dialog, understanding and the capability to make decisions for yourself? If so, I suggest you cannot afford to lose something that we have grown up expecting — local news from a trusted, reliable source.
Stop and think of what our nation would look like in total ignorance. Then, support your local newspaper!
Larry Chadwick is a resident of Lake Oswego.
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