Thursday, September 22, 2005

Where's My Paper?

The Daily News and the Inky are collectively cutting their reporting staff by 100. Philly Future has a large group entry on this. Tattered Coat also has a good entry. There have been others as well.

I have watched over the past few years as the Inquirer has cut back on reporting in my area. We used to have one reporter for a couple of townships, then it was the general suburban area. Now on Sundays we get a flimsy insert that is primarily written by readers, happy, fluffy news and essays by high school students. All this is well and good but I have no other venue for solid news. There is a suburban weekly but it is not known for breaking big stories.

Bloggers are great and wonderful, but most of us are volunteers and don't have the skills, connections, or time to do the investigative reporting that we all love to quote from.

I stopped watching televised news about six years ago; on the rare occasions that I see it now I'm just put off by the sensationalism and sloppy work. Commentary shows have, by and large, turned into ill-mannered scream fests. I get my news in print.

The daily newspaper has been a part of my life since I knew how to read (okay, maybe not then, but soon after). When I have time I read the city paper, a national paper (WSJ or NYT), and USA Today when traveling. I subscribe, and can tell you the paper hits the driveway usually between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. On those days, few and far between, that it doesn't come I'm lost. I get the shakes. One morning after a snow storm I went around the street offering homebaked cookies in return for anyone's paper. Mine was buried somewhere in the front yard and didn't surface for over a week.

I can't tell you how many times people have told me they think everything should be free and on the Internet. When things are free and on the Internet they have the substance and consistency of this blog. Good reporters who spend hours tracking down stories and filing freedom of information act forms can't do it on evenings and weekends. They need to get paid to do it. And that means people have to actually buy the papers. Much as I like the local paper's blogs, I like their news reporting better.

We need papers strong enough to buck local politicians, with reporters who know how to do what good reporters do, writers who can write. A city without a robust paper or two cannot claim to be a great city.

If you are reading this and do not subscribe to a paper, please go out and buy one, maybe two.

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