Think about this: Back in 2004, there were about 34 reporters working at The Register-Guard. Today there are nine. There is no question that Eugene’s hometown newspaper is not the publication it once was. People here shake their heads and talk about the last straw that made them cancel their subscriptions.
But that’s shortsighted.
Canceling a subscription to the local newspaper is kind of like refusing to repair the roof because it’s already leaking.
It’s like refusing to fix the bridge because it’s already got cracks in it.
It’s like refusing to help kids with homework because they are crappy students.
We need our local newspaper. Somebody has to go to the city council meeting, sit through it, cull the most important info and tell you what you missed. Somebody has to show up at the local schools, see what’s happening in classrooms and inspire you with the learning that’s going on. Somebody needs to read those 350-page environmental impact statements, and tell you what the government has planned for the public lands around you.
The nation’s flagship newspapers — New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal — they aren’t going to do it. Your local TV and public radio also lack the bandwidth to sufficiently deploy reporters.
Consider your local newspaper to be part of the community infrastructure. It might not be the paper it once was. But it can’t get better if the community doesn’t buy in.
Today there are news deserts, places that no longer have even a few reporters doing the grunt work of keeping communities informed. Let’s not be that place.