With the development of new technology, the most popular and cost-effective ways of presenting information widely used in the past become outdated. In the United States, the abovementioned tendency manifests itself in a variety of trends such as the decline of local newspapers. Nowadays, more and more companies in the newspaper business that do not possess the status of industry giants stop producing printed publications due to financial considerations. Using the projects of Newseum and other sources, this essay argues that the decline of local newspapers jeopardizes people’s right to information.
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Many exhibits available to people visiting Newseum, a museum of journalism, raise the topic of free press and shed light upon the problem being discussed. Issues at the confluence of the decline of local newspapers and the credibility of information may arise during armed conflicts and terrorist attacks. After the sadly remembered 9/11 events, “news broke in three places almost simultaneously” (“9/11 Gallery Sponsored by Comcast” par. 3).
It is possible that in such situations, the reaction of both local and regional newspapers and, importantly, the similarity between facts provided at different levels remain the indicators of information accuracy. Given the absence of local information sources, the data provided by large agencies can be regarded as well-controlled by the government, thus giving rise to conspiracy theories.
It is widely accepted that newspapers, along with TV programs, present the key information sources that can be used by anyone. Unlike the situation with online sources that become more influential today, people are not required to have well-developed computer literacy skills to use newspapers. Therefore, the lack of easy-to-use options that represent local news can be detrimental to people who have no access to the Internet.
This tendency also jeopardizes the consumption of information when it comes to older adults – in the United States, about 35% of them do not use the Internet at all (Hunsaker and Hargittai 3742). With that in mind, the acquisition of small newspapers by media giants poses a threat to people who cannot use other options.
The lack of local sources that provide an adequate representation of specific events also poses a threat to the consumption of information due to political functions that these newspapers fulfill. The attempt to highlight the importance of local social and political news is made by the Newseum’s project, Today’s Front Pages (“Today’s Front Pages”). There is no doubt that all large-scale events and catastrophes in the United States like 9/11 or presidential decrees are widely discussed by media giants (“9/11 Gallery Sponsored by Comcast” par. 2). The same principle should work with local political events to increase people’s awareness of new initiatives and make them feel involved in political decision-making.
News reporters from small companies can monitor the cases of the excess of power among local civil servants. However, large media sources such as The Washington Post successfully solicit the subscribers of local newspapers by introducing special offers (Saperstein). Modern researchers prove that the presence of adequate local news coverage encourages legislators to “better represent their districts” (Masket par. 6). Therefore, the opportunity to miss the cases of local politics’ unprofessional behavior is not the only negative consequence of the decline of local newspapers.
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To sum it up, the lack of local newspapers can be detrimental to people’s awareness of the most recent events and impact the degree of trust in the national media. Additionally, the decision to reduce media coverage of local events negatively impacts small newspapers’ regular readers. In the end, an inadequate representation of local news limits people’s opportunities to participate in political life and helps to conceal some mistakes of city administrations.
Hunsaker, Amanda, and Eszter Hargittai. “A Review of Internet Use Among Older Adults.” New Media & Society, vol. 20, no. 10, 2018, pp. 3937-3954.
Masket, Seth. “The Decline of Local News is Bad for Democracy.” Pacific Standard. 2018. Web.
“9/11 Gallery Sponsored by Comcast.” Newseum. Web.
Saperstein, Tess. “The Future of Print: Newspapers Struggle to Survive in the Age of Technology.” Harvard Political Review. 2014. Web.
“Today’s Front Pages.” Newseum. Web.