Breaking News: New Life for Local Newspapers

The demise of local newspapers has been a very depressing story in the last few years, but help has arrived!

How about a little bit of good news for a change? Specifically, good news about news.

The demise of local newspapers has been a very depressing story in the last few years, with several thousand of them gobbled up by Wall Street profiteers. Those money powers loot the publications’ assets, then callously shut down each community’s paper or reduce them to empty news shells. So that’s that — local print journalism is passe, right?

Wrong! High-spirited, community-minded subscribers in places like Glen Rose (Texas), Hamburg (Iowa), Portland (Maine) and International Falls (Minnesota) are humming an upbeat tune of regeneration that could be titled “Not Dead Yet!” In Maine, for example, five of the state’s six daily papers and 17 weeklies were sinking under the ownership of an investment group. But all were recently bought by the National Trust for Local News, a nonprofit started two years ago. The Trust is turning each publication over to local nonprofit owners and helping them find ways to become sustainable.

Another new effort, called Cherry Road Media, has bought 77 rural papers in 17 states, most from the predatory Gannett conglomerate that wanted to dump them. Cherry Road’s business plan is simple, old-time genius — return editorial decision-making to local people and journalists who know the town, be an active presence and participant in community affairs, make the locals responsible for sustaining their town’s paper — and most important, reinvest profits in real local journalism that advances democracy.

In both of these new initiatives, the foremost mission is to serve the common good of the communities, not to pad the wealth of a few distant financiers. To learn more about these models (and how you might implement something similar for your town’s local newspapers), contact Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

(Ed note: The Humor Times, a political satire newspaper, is local to Sacramento, CA — while being available by subscription all over the world, in print and digital formats. You can help us out, too! Subscribe, and please share this post about our fundraiser. Thanks!)

It’s Hot… and Joe Biden Has a Website for That!

Weather forecasters across the Southwest are having a hard time this summer coming up with descriptive taglines for each day’s ever-rising heat. If 105 degrees is “hot,” what to call 110 degrees… and up? Some have quit trying, simply labeling each day: “Again.”

Luckily, President Joe Biden has issued bold new steps to counter the relentless climate change that’s causing this extreme, killer heat. For example, workers will get “hazard alerts” telling them it’s hot. Also, a new website will urge everyone to stay hydrated. His aides say this shows that Joe is treating climate change with “the urgency it deserves.”

Excuse me while I have a political heatstroke. Urgency? The same day Biden launched his pathetic global warming “policy,” the Republican Supreme Court rubber-stamped his disastrous push for the massively polluting Mountain Valley Pipeline. This 300-mile environmental scar across two states will be like adding 26 more coal-fired power plants to our climate change crisis. Then there’s his unconscionable approval this year of Willow, an oil-drilling project in the Arctic that will release hundreds of millions of tons of additional greenhouse gas emissions. Plus approving and subsidizing dozens of other fossil fuel boondoggles.

Worse, Biden has meekly refused to take the genuinely bold step of declaring a climate emergency, even as he’s pushed new laws to remove the people’s right to challenge corporate profiteering at the expense of climate sanity.

Yes, the Republicans are worse, but pointing that out is neither a policy nor good politics. Climate change is not a future problem, it is NOW… and people are literally feeling it. If Biden wonders why his approval rating is a woeful 39% (and even among Democrats, only 20% express enthusiasm for him) — there it is. People want and need presidential boldness, not a hot weather website.

Jim Hightower