By WARREN DEWS, JR.
I’ve been in the media business for three decades. I’ve worked in New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Vermont, to name a few. During my time in each of these places, you had to move with the company to grow. It amazed me that no matter where I came from, I worked for the local newspaper and as such, I was seen as part of the community.
Some people had a positive view of the paper, others viewed it negatively. Either way, they had an opinion and felt it was important to read that product no matter how they felt about it.
I share these points to say that local media is so important and needed in the community it serves. Numerous studies have explored the impact of local news coverage on core qualities of a healthy democracy, such as people’s political knowledge, voting rates, and the number of people running for office. These studies provide an enormous amount of rigorous research into the various ways journalism contributes to a healthy democracy.
However, these findings also call us to take even more seriously the erosion of people’s access to news and information. The faltering of newspapers, the consolidation of TV and radio, and the rising power of social media platforms are not just commercial issues driven by the market, they are democratic issues with profound implications for our communities.
I speak with people almost every day who fall on different sides of an opinion. I believe that our newspapers need to be able to bring people together to discuss these issues. We need to be the town square and/or mediator to bring people together so the community can move forward collectively.
To that end, we are creating a way in which the community can help us do the job of being your watchdog. We are asking the community to donate to our local journalism fund. This will allow us to hire seasoned reporters to do the job of true journalism. This will allow our community to have a place to discuss their issues and spotlight the great things our communities are doing every day. We want to be the company that is in your reach and is always reaching out to you.
Please click the link at https://theupstater.com/ to support us in our mission.
Warren Dews Jr. is vice president of Capital Region Independent Media and the publisher of The Columbia Paper, The Ravena News-Herald and The Pioneer Greenville.