By Jon Keller
BOSTON (WBZ-AM) — Here’s some bad news: Gannett, the nation’s largest publisher of daily newspapers, reports revenues are off ten percent from last year, with print advertising – their bread and butter – down an appalling 18.5 percent.
McClatchy, another large newspaper chain, is off by roughly the same percentage.
Revenues from digital news products are up, but not by nearly as a much as they’re losing on the print side. And that, say industry experts, means more newsroom cuts and, inevitably, newspaper closings.
Why should you care?
Stop and think about how your local newspaper benefits you and your community, even if you rarely bother to read it.
Newspaper coverage of government is an indispensable check on political excesses and funny business. I can assure you that the mere presence of a reporter at a government function acts as a deterrent to stuff you wouldn’t want to see happen, and helps remind the pols that someone they don’t control is looking over their shoulder.
Good newspapers ask pointed, relevant questions and don’t take well to being brushed off.
Sometimes, more affluent dailies spend big bucks to go to court on behalf of your right to know. Without newspapers, we wouldn’t know the real story of US involvement in Vietnam, or the extent of the priest/pedophile scandal here in Boston.
And a well-edited newspaper means that conscientious adults with a commitment to fairness and accuracy are doing their best to make sure you have an alternative to the fake news the internet so prolifically churns out.
If fairness, truth, empowerment and transparency don’t matter to you, then don’t worry about the newspaper death-spiral.
But if they do, take this news as a warning sign of hard times ahead.
You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. Listen to his previous podcasts on iHeartRadio.