Friday, November 16, 2007

Newspaper Localism

I'm at home in Stevens Point at my parents' house and it's always somewhat of a culture shock to came back here. Everything is so much slower paced, small town, and isolated that it's hard to believe that I actually grew up here. One thing that I always enjoy doing when I come home is read the Stevens Point Journal, the "local" newspaper. I try to read it online when I can, a pleasant technological development, but it's not the same as reading the paper in its entirety in old-fashioned print form. Within such a small city with close knit ties, it struck me how important the newspaper is in showcasing and communicating the values and issues of the people. Within a community, the newspaper truly embodies the spirit of localism and keeping the media close to home. These virtures are evident in the main page focus on community affairs, the listing of the junior high and high school honor roll listing, and the placement of world events on the back page. The paper truly exists as a community public forum and informant.

However, the Stevens Point Journal along with numerous other Wisconsin newspapers, are now owned by Gannett Newspapers. This ownership blatantly endangers the purpose of "local" journals the the Point paper, and makes me wonder about the future of such community newspapers. I think media consolidation is a huge concern in consideration to localism. A good development has been the founding of the Portage County Gazette, a free, weekly county publication that provides some competition to the Point Journal. At least there's still room for a truly local paper to fill the localism void in the face of ownership concentration. I wonder how long that will exist.

No comments: