“Without quality local news, it’s hard for people to participate in their communities in a meaningful way — even to understand why they should.”
Why local newspapers matter
There is a dangerous development occurring before our very eyes: the loss of local newspapers.
The number of local newspapers is shrinking at an alarming rate, leading one media analyst to write about the resulting injurious consequences. The seriousness of this development and cause for alarm is echoed in the assessment by the media scholar Dan Kennedy, at Northeastern University, stating, “Without quality local news, it’s hard for people to participate in their communities in a meaningful way — even to understand why they should.”
The following are data corroborating these concerns: “900 communities nationally have lost news coverage since 2004,” according to the Center of Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media. This development is attended by the reality that online news-only channels replacing local newspapers over the past decade “tend to serve affluent communities rather than poor communities. Also, Facebook and other social media are awash with fake and unreliable news.”
Indeed, it is not unwarranted to assert that much of the hostile discourse in the public sphere today is caused by too much reliance on unvetted social media parading as news, variously amounting to little more than gossip and/or propaganda.
Whether at the national or local level, the role of newspapers is essential to the functioning of any participatory democracy. Remember the adage, “all politics is local.” Worth recalling, too, are Thomas Jefferson’s words, commenting that if he had to choose between “a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.”
In the larger context of the role of newspapers and the contemporary threat to their survival, we should all remember that their most important function is to “act as a watchdog on government.” This fact underlies Professor Dan Kennedy’s warning: “As local newspapers shrink or disappear, opportuniies increase for politicans and public employees to reach into the cookie jar and help themselves — and the underpinnings of democracy rot away.”
In sum, local newspapers are too essential to the political, cultural and social wellbeing of our communities and our nation to be taken for granted. They deserve our nurture and ardent support.
Howard A. Myrick, Ph.D.
Costs a lot to get rid of a city manager
What with the brouhaha we have had concerning the firing of our city manager, I got to thinking maybe we would be better off if we returned to the old way of doing things. The job didn’t exist before 1913 and spread slowly; by 1930 only 200 American cities used a city manager, and they were responsible for the day-to-day administrative operations of the municipality; this made the mayor’s job become part time, consisting of ribbon cutting, turning over shovels full of dirt at future construction sites, wasting money renovating buildings and parks and taking care of nepotism (either pro or anti).
The mayors we have had in Palm Coast couldn’t even do this part time job, so we would be up the creek without a paddle if they had to do the whole job like the old time mayors, or maybe we could be more selective when voting for mayors and elect someone who is capable instead of someone who is merely popular but unfit or unqualified; this also applies to the City Council.
We should consider ability more than youth or gender; looking into someone’s background may require some effort, but it may pay dividends. We could elect someone that is more concerned with cutting spending than with building more lighted baseball fields or getting top-of-the-line high-speed Internet availability that benefits very few if anyone!
One last point: We can always elect a new mayor, but it seems to cost a lot of money to get rid of a city manager.
Douglas R. Glover
Why does Captain's have to be on land owned by the county?
In his note to Ms. Joy Ellis, Captain’s BBQ co-owner Mr. Mike Goodman remarks, "Suggesting an alternative location that is not ready for development and is not controlled by the county or Captain’s is not helpful or productive."
Why? Why does the location of a privately owned business have to be controlled by the county? Does that not give an unfair advantage to one business over another?
The other fallacy in his comment is that there are no alternative locations that are ready for development. A simple drive down A1A offers plenty of choices.
The fact is that the citizens of the area and the community at large agree that they do not want a larger building and a larger parking lot on the site.
No one has really addressed the issue of a liquor license in a park where liquor is prohibited and what liability that creates for the county, i.e., taxpayers.