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Newspapers' Closure is Sad For Democracy

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
December 31, 2015
Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

The following is a commentary. Commentaries represent the viewpoints of individual authors and are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc. or its directors.

The Daily News asked me for a few words about the paper's closing. Here's what I sent them:

. . .

A wise person once said that news is anything that people in authority don't want printed --- everything else is advertising.

So, it's a very bad day for democracy and for an informed community when any newspaper closes.

Very few cities of the size of McKeesport or Monessen have a daily newspaper any more. In fact --- much, much larger cities like Cleveland and New Orleans now have newspapers that only come out a few days per week.

So, on the one hand, the loss of newspapers such as the Daily News and Valley Independent is something happening all over the country.

But the problem is that when these local newspapers are closing or downsizing, nothing is replacing them.

The reason is that news coverage --- real news coverage, not just re-printing news releases or police reports --- is very, very expensive, and it's hard to make money in publishing on the Internet.

So while digital publishing experts keep saying that the Internet will replace these newspapers, it really isn't doing that so far.

The web sites that are making money aren't serious news sites --- they're gossip web sites --- because big national advertisers aren't supporting serious news websites.

And as far as local news, the only time anyone has tried to intensively cover local news on the Internet --- the national network of Patch.com websites, including here in Pittsburgh --- they lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Advertisers didn't support it. So Patch.com is now mostly trivia and gossip.

Tube City Community Media is actively looking for ways to step in and fill a part of the void that will be left with the loss of the Daily News. To name just one small step we're taking, we will launch a local McKeesport and Mon-Yough obituary website on Jan. 1.

We would love to find some partners to cover local news in the Mon-Yough area. I have been sending emails and making phone calls pretty much on a daily basis since I learned the Daily News would close.

But we need someone or something to pay for that, and unless we can find some substantial means of financial support, I am really sorry to say we will have a hard time doing much.

. . .

Opinions expressed in commentaries are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc. Tube City Community Media is committed to printing viewpoints from residents of McKeesport and the surrounding area. To submit a commentary, email tube city tiger at gmail dot com, or write to Tube City Online, P.O. Box 94, McKeesport 15134.

Originally published December 31, 2015.

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