Letters to the Editor Opinion

Letter to the Editor: Local news under fire

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

The media is the most powerful human tool there is. A creator, persuader, lifter of the human spirit, a destroyer and liar. A message making propaganda machine, or a tool of human excellence, a forum for debate and speculation. Prove the truth of it, and even tyrants have to take you seriously.

In the past 15 years 70 dailies and over 2000 weekly news operations have gone out of business in America. 78 million Americans live in a news desert, where local news has vanished or is under control of monopolistic organizations. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic 2,500 local news operations have gone out of operation in America. Not surprisingly the average American has spent only $3.16 annually on public media, in Germany that rises to $142.00, in Botswana they spend $18.38. Priorities eh?

National and local governments advertise in local news media operations, messaging the importance of local media by investing in it both indirectly and directly. The importance of this government largesse cannot be ignored, just as the influence and power these organizations have upon the media also cannot be ignored. 

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation receives over a billion dollars from the Federal Government, its lion share of investment to stay operational. Various politicians have attempted to end this investment, seeing the CBC as a propaganda wing of the Liberal Party. Conservatives partner with private broadcasting, and see public airways as a means to a profitable end. 

To a conservative, Republican or nationalist political organization, local media is something to be manipulated and used, while the alphabet media is something to assist and praise. Big media is big business. Big business is not democratic, as it reaches for one thing, and one thing only: profitable popularity.  Public media and local media operations live and work within the communities they serve. In a world where the large absorb the small, your local media is essentially the most valuable tool democracy has.

Small town media has been the historical backbone of democracies planet wide. What do your fellow citizens think about this issue, or that? The alphabet media companies don’t care, in fact they see media as a form of entertainment. Local media struggles to pay its employees, often forcing media labor discussions. Who reports upon the needs of those on strike, those who have not received pay raises for many years or those who endure the ever-increasing costs of our marketplace? Local Media gives the little person a voice! That is what it is all about.

Oscar Wilde said “In America, the president reigns for four years, and journalism governs forever and ever.” Newspapers are sacred artifacts of historic importance. Technology has begun changing the way you get your news, but that news still leads you on a sacred quest to view, consume, and express new opinions.

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