Just days after lamenting the demise of my local newspaper, it carried good news in a banner headline: Reformer, Three Other Papers, Sold to Local Investors.
Four men from Massachusetts are buying The Brattleboro Reformer and three other nearby papers in order to “focus on having great local newspapers.” The article quotes one of the new owners saying, “We don’t believe newspapers are dying.”
Plans include “increasing the quality in all respects,” and “to make the papers as unique as the various communities they serve.” The owners say, “We care about print journalism and newspapers are still hugely important to the social fabric of the communities.” To which I say, “Amen!”
A good local daily is good for an informed citizenry and civil engagement; a good local daily reports news that’s hard to find anywhere else; and a good local daily includes local opinion and commentary written by local citizen-writers.
A good local daily is a lot like good, local food. It’s news gathered as its peak and reported while it’s still fresh. Locally gathered news captures the real stories of what’s happening in our towns and villages. It has terroir – the unique flavor of place from stories emerging in our specific habitat.
I’m hopeful that these investors mean what they say. I hope that they can be profitable without feeding us canned stories about celebrities, and abbreviated news “from away” that is as lacking in tooth as mass-produced white bread and as tasteless as a tomato engineered for appearance rather than flavor.
I have high hopes for this new iteration of the local daily; I hope it carries local, regional and statewide news as it pertains to our southeast corner of Vermont. It doesn’t have to carry national or international news; there are other, better-positioned, media outlets that already do that. That said, the paper has historically reported on what our activist, local, citizenry are doing out in the world, and I hope it will continue to report on the work local people are doing abroad.
And I’m not a purist: if the new regime keeps the comics, Dear Abby, and maybe a harder crossword, that will be good news indeed.
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