Just last week, newspaper goliath Gannett unceremoniously closed more local newspapers. It wasn’t an emotional decision — it’s just business.
Gone now are staff members from the Grafton News, Holden Landmark, Millbury/Sutton Chronicle and Baystate Parent. The Landmark’s last print issue will be published Sept. 15, according to Worcester Business Journal.
Aside from the human toll in lost jobs, this marks a real, tangible loss for the communities these publications served. They join an ever-growing list that Gannett has put down, including Westborough News, Shrewsbury Chronicle, Northborough/Southborough Villager as well as Marlborough Enterprise and Hudson Sun.
So why does this matter?
The truth is that newspapers have long been the glue that helps keep a community connected. A friend of mine once referred to the town newspaper as an “owner’s manual” for the town. From sports scores to real estate listings and from school committee meeting coverage to obituaries, the local newspaper keeps us up to date and brings us all together. Of course, lots of people feel that Facebook and online news sites are a great substitute, but something valuable is often lost in the translation.
The closure of newspapers usually means the downsizing of news departments and the loss of actual town reporters. Years ago, it was common to see two to three journalists attending a given town meeting, now there is rarely more than one.
Most of these reporters resided in town and had a vested interest in the news they reported. Now, online journalism is largely done remotely. Because it is funded through pageviews, the new focus is often on the volume of stories and speed of delivery, not on depth and insight.
Thanks to the corporate giant’s decision to walk away from community journalism, a new term has entered our lexicon. The phrase “news desert” is used to describe a community that has lost its dedicated news source, and in turn, the journalists who once covered the town.
We at the Community Advocate are passionate about local news and our commitment has made us one of the leading circulation newspapers of any size in Central MA. We believe this is due to the fact that we cherish our relationships with our readers and the communities we serve.
If you see the value of having a true, local news source, we urge you to do your part in supporting a healthy newspaper.
Here are a few easy ways you can help:
- Thank our advertisers for their support of local journalism.
- Stay in touch with us by interacting with us on social media.
- Thank your town officials for placing legal advertising with us.
- Become an evangelist and let those in your circle know we need local news.
- Send us your story ideas and photos. This is YOUR paper.
If you truly believe in the mission of the local newspaper, your support will help keep us strong.