The United States has lost 1,800 newspapers since 2004.

And, while 171 counties in the U.S. have no newspaper, nearly half of the 1,449 counties in the U.S. have only one — and that is often a weekly.

Those numbers came from the University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism Center in a study on the withering role of newspapers in America. The news isn’t good.

Cities as large as Tampa, where the Tampa Tribune was bought out, and as small as Lime Springs, Iowa, according to the report, have lost a hometown newspaper in recent years. As a matter of fact, one of every five newspapers in the country have shut down. And, many of those still being printed, have been scooped up by huge publishing companies often funded by investment firms or hedge and pension funds or publicly traded equity groups.

When that happens, more often than naught, newspaper staffs are trimmed and the focus is on a larger area and not the neighborhoods and small communities that were the bread and butter of newspapers for decades.

A newspaper is much more than a source of entertainment. A good newspaper holds its county and city government accountable for their actions. A good newspaper is a watchdog on how your taxes are spent and sniffs out any hint of corruption in government, how the school district is run or how nonprofit groups use their donations. A good newspaper alerts the public to outbreaks of any disease, warns people of crime in their neighborhood, partners with local law enforcement to help catch law breakers, fights for justice and leads its community into the future.

That is our goal and our mission.

As newspapers across the nation recognize Sunshine Week, we pledge to our community to do our job to the best of our ability, to be vigilant, to be fair and to have an open door and a keen ear for the public we serve. It’s more than a business. It’s our responsibility — one forged from centuries of journalists who made a similar pledge and lived, and died, to keep it.

An editorial from the Charlotte Sun.

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