As I read VPAP VANews clips today, I was shocked to see yet more layoffs from local papers around the state-in this case, three announcements on the same day.
- The Roanoke Times eliminates 7 jobs
- RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH ELIMINATES 21 POSITIONS, LAYS OFF 9
- Free Lance–Star lays off 9
Sure, you may disagree with the editors of your local paper and even question the coverage on a given day, but our local papers are the source of the news that impacts us daily — school board votes, city council meetings, local politicians’ actions as well as the sports and comics.
We have generally lost family ownership of newspapers that viewed journalism as more than a business as long as they made enough money to pay the bills. And, yes, corporate ownership of our papers has brought more focus to the return on investment than service to community and journalistic principles. But, I truly fear for the health of our democracy if there aren’t enough trained journalists out there digging for the facts and truth.
If you don’t support journalism with your wallet, then I question your commitment to our democracy, an institution that we may have taken for granted and must realize is perhaps more threatened now than at any time since Nazis and Communists were imposing totalitarianism across the globe.
Today, the threat is economic as social media and the air waves freely broadcast real news gathered from real newspapers at no cost, and tribalism has us reading and listening to only what we want to read or hear.
While an editorial or OpEd in the Richmond Times Dispatch or the Washington Post may frustrate me, it is important to hear all sides and consider alternative perspectives. That is our responsibility and our duty as citizens in a free society. We can have our opinions, but we can’t pick our facts to please ourselves and still have a functioning democracy.
I don’t know that this lonely plea can make a difference, but please consider supporting journalism by subscribing to your local newspapers and contributing to investigative journalism. Yes, contribute to Blue Virginia and VPAP, but subscribe to your local newspaper. Think of it as your patriotic duty in defending our 1st Amendment freedoms! Do it today before it’s too late.